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    Pampanga rides Mark Cruz triple-double to beat Rizal, clinch playoff berth

    Jan 23, 2020

    PAMPANGA leaned on the all-around brilliance of Mark Cruz to deal also-ran Rizal a 20-point beating, 90-70, and clinch a playoff berth in the Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season at Ynares Arena in Pasig on Thursday.

    The pint-sized Cruz stuffed the stat sheet with a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, helping Pampanga forge a two-way tie with Bulacan for fourth spot in the North Division on 18-9 win-loss cards.

    Already up by 12 points entering the second half, Pampanga unleashed an 18-8 run capped by a Reil Cervantes three-pointer to post its biggest lead at 23, 58-35, at the 3:52 mark of the third period.

    Rizal was able to cut it to 12 on a Buenaventura Raflores three-pointer with 2:34 in the fourth frame, 67-79, but it was the closest it could get as Raymond Binuya, Dan Alberto and Cruz slammed the door with an 8-2 spurt.

    “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 akin, kahit sino ang makalaban namin ang importante ay gawin namin yung part namin,” said Pampanga head coach Bong Ramos.

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    Michale Juico led the Giant Lanterns’ offensive assault with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field on top of eight rebounds and two assists while Levi Hernandez added 14 points.

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    Rizal, now 4-21, was led by Kelvin Gregorio with 21 points and eight rebounds. Golden Coolers team captain Mark Benitez chipped in 10 markers and five boards.

    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

    Quarterscores: 15-18, 39-27, 66-47, 90-70

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