Photo from MPBL

THE LEAGUE20 

Dexter Maiquez comes through as Pampanga's unlikely clutch scorer in Game Two

by Niel Victor Masoy, February 21, 2020 7:07pm

The Pampanga Giant Lanterns have multiple weapons offensively in this ongoing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup.

See, the Bong Ramos-mentored squad has potent scorers like Levi Hernandez, Michael Juico, and Mark Cruz, and Reil Cervantes, who, obviously, can flat out put the ball in the hoop.

Came crunch time in Game Two of the Giant Lanterns- Bataan Risers Quarterfinals series on Thursday night, however, an unlikely scoring hero came through for Pampanga.

Enter Dexter Maiquez.

The Ex-Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player scored the Giant Lanterns' last six points in the final minute of the contest held at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga.

With his team down by a point, 77-78, with a minute left, Maiquez first bulldozed Chito Jaime for a bucket down low as Pampanga regained a one-point lead at the 44.4-second mark.

"Talagang binigay sa akin ni coach Bong yung play sa akin nung timeout, kaya sabi ko sige aatakihin ko, may go signal naman kay coach. Luckily, pumasok," the 6-foot-3 forward said.

He then drilled four free throws to extend the Giant Lanterns' cushion to five points with 19.5 seconds to go.

Maiquez admitted hitting those freebies had him feeling the nerves. Fortunately, he's been hard at work, practicing on shooting from the foul line, and it obviously paid off for him.

"Sobrang pressure, sabi ko na lang sa sarili ko, bahala na, ito naman yung ineensayo ko palagi, ginawa ko lang yung normal free throw routine ko."

A Gino Jumao-as pair of free throws made it a single possession for the Risers, who also came up with a steal on the ensuing play which left the door wide open for them to force an overtime.

Alfred Batino's steal eventually led to Reed Juntilla launching a triple, but Juico shut the door down by blocking the shot as Pampanga escaped with an 83-80 win.

Maiquez finished the contest with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field on top of nine rebounds and two assists.

The Giant Lanterns swept the Risers, 2-0, to reach the MPBL North Division Semifinals where they will face the defending champions San Juan Knights.

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