The Muntinlupa Cagers routed the Zamboanga Valientes 85-69 in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at Marist School Gymnasium in Marikina Wednesday night.
Led by Allan Mangahas and Chito Jaime, the Angelis Resort-supported Cagers won convincingly to stretch their unbeaten run to 3 and seize the solo lead in the 26-team field.
In the second game, the visiting Imus Bandera proved steadier in the clutch as they nipped the Marikina Shoemasters, 72-71.
With Mangahas scoring a game-high 18 points, 6 from the 3-point zone, the Cagers surged ahead, 46-27, and were never threatened as the Valientes misfired throughout and dropped to 1-2.
The 5-foot-11 Mangahas, a former Mapua Cardinals varsity player, added 9 assists and 5 rebounds as coach Aldrin Morante's charges drilled in 8 of 26 triple attempts for 24 points that spelled the difference as the Valientes could only connect on 2 of 17 from downtown.
Jaime, a 6-foot-4 gunner, fired 14 points for Muntinlupa, the MPBL Anta Cup losing finalist, which also got 12 from Regie Boy Basibas, and 9 points and 12 rebounds from Felix Apreku.
Zamboanga, backed by Family's Brand Sardines, got 11 points from Reed Juntilla, and 10 points and 11 rebounds from 6-foot-7 center Rino Berame.
In the other game, Chester Ian Melencio, a stalwart of Cavite cage leagues, canned a jumper with 14 seconds left to lift Imus, which tied Marikina in the standings at 1-2.
Former pro Erwin Sta. Maria had a chance to reverse the outcome for Marikina, but his attempt near the basket, coming off an offensive rebound, hit the lower edge of the board.
Melencio's basket made sure the 20-point explosion by Mark Anthony Guillen for the Bandera didn't go to waste.
The Datu Cup goes to the Blue Eagle Gym in Katipunan on Thursday, with Mandaluyong El Tigre (1-1) tangling with the Pasig Pirates (0-2) at 7 p.m.
The Quezon City Capitals will try to rebound from their first game setback when they tackle the dangerous General Santos Warriors (1-1).
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