Zamboanga, Negros share MPBL lead

ZAMBOANGA and Negros hurdled past their respective opponents on Tuesday to share the top spot in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) elimination round at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Getting back to form, Zamboanga Masters Sardines dumped Mindoro, 86-72, while the Negros Muscovados sustained their strong showing by besting the Bicol Oragons, 75-68.

The Pasay Voyagers subdued the undermanned Abra Weavers, 78-72, in the nightcap.

Zamboanga and Negros tallied their third victories in as many games, while Pasay leveled its slate to 1-1.

Former Most Valuable Player Jaycee Marcelino paced Zamboanga with 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Others who delivered for Zamboanga coach Louie Alas were fiery recruit Rey Joey Barcuma with 11 points and four assists, and burly Joseph Gabayni with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Dominant in the paint with a 52-40 edge in rebounds, Zamboanga surged beyond reach 77-56 in the fourth quarter and pulled down Mindoro to 1-2.

Mindoro got 19 points, six rebounds and three assists from Andres Desiderio and 15 points and eight rebounds from Lester Reyes.

Powered by Renz Palma and Jeremy Cruz, the Muscovados totally outplayed the Oragons, who suffered their third straight defeat.

Palma finished with 20 points and four rebounds while Cruz contributed 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks for Muscovados coach Bonnie Garcia.

Marvin Lee paced Bicol with 16 points and five assists as John Edcel Rojas added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Missing the services of Top Gun Mac Tallo and slot man Prince Caperal, the Abra Weavers trailed by as many as 16 points, 32-48, and dropped to 2-1 against the Pasay Voyagers.

Pasay drew power from Laurenz Paul Victoria with 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Abra, on the other hand, got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Michael Canate.

The MPBL, meanwhile, announced that the Tarlac United Force will no longer be a part of the MPBL after its failure to fulfill its financial obligations as a new franchise despite several grace periods.

Tarlac’s unceremonious exit left the ongoing season with 29 teams.

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