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Mark Cruz drops triple-double as Pampanga blasts Rizal for fifth straight win

by Niel Victor Masoy, January 23, 2020 7:31pm

Mark Cruz might be the smallest player in the ongoing Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup, but he's definitely one of the best cagers in the fledgling league.

Cruz showed just that against the Rizal Golden Coolers on Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena.

The former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player unloaded a triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists on top of two steals to lead the Pampanga Giant Lanterns to a 90-70 win - their fifth straight.

Michael Juico provided the necessary support, tallying 19 points, eight caroms, and two assists.

Also ex-pro Dexter Maiquez chipped in nine markers and eight boards as Pampanga improved to an 18-9 win-loss card, good for a tie with the Bulacan Kuyas at the fourth spot in the North Division team standings.

"Ang target namin is to go one game at a time, try to win as much as we can hanggang matapos kasi nag po-positioning tayo (sa playoffs) eh. Sakin, kahit sino ang makalaban namin ang importante ay gawin namin yung part namin,” said Giant Lanterns head coach Bong Ramos.

The Giant Lanterns took control of the first half and led the Golden Coolers by 12 points, 39-27

Pampanga then turned it up a notch in the third period by unleashing an 18-8 run capped by a Reil Cervantes trey for a 23-point, 58-35 spread - the Giant Lanterns' biggest lead in the contest - with 3:52 left in the quarter.

The Golden Coolers made it a game as they got within 12, 67-79, following a Buenaventura Raflores trey at the 2:34 mark of the final canto.

Raymond Binuya, Mark Cruz, and Dan Alberto, however, joined hands for an 8-2 spurt that put Rizal away.

Kelvin Gregorio paced the already-eliminated Rizal with 21 points, eight rebounds, and two assists as Mark Benitez backstopped him with 10 points and five caroms.

Jack Hoyohoy put up seven points, five rebounds, and four steals as the Golden Coolers suffered its fifth straight defeat to drop to a 4-21 slate, deadlast in the North and all of the league.


The scores:

Pampanga 90 – Juico 19, Hernandez 14, Cruz 10, Cervantes 9, Maiquez 9, Baltazar 7, Binuya 7, Gomez 6, Muyang 4, Alberto 3, Acuno 2, Baltazar 0, Enriquez 0, Fabian 0, Salcedo 0.

Rizal 70 – Gregorio 21, Benitez 10, Raflores 9, Hoyohoy 7, Leynes 5, Casajeros 5, Saliente 5, Bacay 3, Regalado 3, Butel 0, Raflores 0, Rosales 0.

Quarters: 15-18, 39-27, 66-47, 90-70.

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