Quezon rallies, edges Negros

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARK ALCALA LUCENA City Mayor Mark Alcala of the Quezon Huskers shoots a floater during their game against the Negros Muscovados in the OKBet-MPBL last Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center.

LUCENA CITY — The Quezon Huskers displayed grace under pressure to pull off an 82-80 victory over the Negros Muscovados in the opening salvo of the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League late Saturday at the Quezon Convention Center here.

After trailing by 10 points, 64-74, in the crucial stretch, the Huskers dropped a 10-point bomb to seize the lead, 79-78, and steal the victory in their debut game in this prestigious regional tournament.

Also posting a hot start were the Bataan Risers, who banked on James Castro and prized acquisition Yves Sazon to overcome the Rizal Xentro Mall Golden Coolers, 81-70, in the opening game.

Castro, who joined the league’s 1,000-point club, wound up with 20 points while Sazon had 12 markers for the Risers, who pulled away, 62-46, midway through the last quarter.

Still, the day belonged to the Huskers, who played an inspired performance that was witnessed by Quezon Gov. Helen Tan, MPBL commissioner Manny Pacquiao and MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

Jeric Teng presided over Quezon’s rally with eight points in the last 10 minutes, including a drive in the deciding stretch while Mark Pangilinan and RJ Minerva knocked down a pair of three-pointers before Lucena City Mayor Mark Alcala scored on a fast break.

The 26-year-old Alcala, a former De La Salle Zobel standout, shared the limelight as he drilled in two triples with the last giving Quezon the lead, 46-44, in the first 12 minutes of action.

Thomas Torres also sparkled for the Huskers with 12 points, including the basket that gave them an 81-80 lead with 10 rebounds and 10 assists while Pangilinan chipped in 11 points and Minerva 10 markers.

“I’m glad to pick up the win and overcome our opening-day jitters,” Huskers coach Eric Gonzales, who missed the services of National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player Will Gozum and 6-foot-10 Ken Homlqvist, said.

“But we’re still struggling with our fitness and conditioning so I used a long rotation. It’s good that the boys delivered and booked a win that boosted our morale heading into our next game.”

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