VALENZUELA continued its remarkable run in the MPBL Lakan Season on Thursday night as the Classic added the Cebu Sharks to their list of victims following a 69-66 triumph at the Blue Eagle Gym in Ateneo.
Jaymar Gimpayan stepped up big as the unheralded forward came away with a double-double performance of 11 points and 11 rebounds to guide the Classic to their fourth straight win.
The victory catapulted Valenzuela into a tie for third to fourth places with the Manila Stars in the northern division of the tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
For head coach Gerry Esplana, Valenzuela’s early success can be attributed to the players’ willingness to embrace their roles.
“Alam nila kung ano ang role nila,” added Esplana. “At any given day, laging mayroong magi-step up sa team.”
Zamboanga and Quezon City carved out contrasting victories over their respective rivals.
Playing without premier frontliner Harold Arboleda, who was sidelined after hurting his hand, the Family’s Brand Sardines-supported squad got a big lift from Allan Santos, who scored the game-winning short jumper with three seconds left and towed his squad to a tense 60-59 win over Bulacan.
Santos was at the right place at the right time, grabbing a rebound and putting in a short jumper.
In the next play, Zamboanga denied Bulacan’s shooters, leaving JR Taganas to receive the inbound pass and desperately heaved a mid-range jumper as time expired.
Quezon City, on the other hand, turned to newcomers Tonino Gonzaga, Dahrrel Caranguian and Clark Derige as the Capitals bought down the Mindoro Tamaraws, 72-62.