BALIWAG, Bulacan—The Bulacan Kuyas brought the heat in the second half and pounded the visiting Rizal Crusaders to submission, 80-61, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup at a packed Baliwag Star Arena here on Tuesday.
Banking on the sniping of James Martinez and the rebounding of JR Taganas, the Kuyas clawed their way back from a 27-19 first quarter deficit and gifted debuting multititled coach Britt Reroma his first win of the tournament.
Martinez fired a game-high 18 points while Taganas, a burly 6-foot-3 center, added 10 points and tied his MPBL-best 16 rebounds to earn player of the game honors.
The Kuyas, being supported by Mighty Sports of Angelo Wongchuking Jr., continued their rampage in the fourth quarter, leaving the Crusaders reeling from a barrage of fastbreaks.
With Gideon Ira Babilonia snaring 8 boards and Stephen Siruma snagging 7, the Kuyas took a decisive 56-36 edge in rebounds that compensated for their 25 turnovers.
Reroma, a former national youth team mentor who piloted the San Beda Red Cubs to several NCAA titles, said he was happy with the way his players responded in the second half, but added they still have a long way to go to be able to match other MPBL powerhouses.
“I want to imbibe in them the culture of winning,” added Reroma, citing their defensive stops as primary reason for their recovery in the second half.
According to Reroma, their mettle will be tested when they tangle with the San Juan Knights, considered one of the league’s strongest teams, in their next game.
The Crusaders, being coached by Braulio Lim, drew 13 points from Paul Santiago and 10 from James Abugan.
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