MANILA, Philippines -- Pampanga showcased its might in beating La Union, 98-69, to move on the brink of capturing the Chooks-to-Go National Basketball League-Pilipinas (NBL) Chairman's Cup 2021 crown on Saturday at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Encho Serrano had an all-around performance while Levi Hernandez led five players in double figures as the Delta put up a huge third quarter to frustrate the PAOwer, and close in on a second straight championship in the professional regional league for homegrown talents.
Serrano put up 17 points and 10 assists while Hernandez fired 19 for Pampanga, which can complete a sweep of the best-of-three series with a victory Sunday at the same venue.
The Delta closed out the first half on a 14-3 run to take a 49-38 halftime lead before the floodgates opened in the third with Serrano, Hernandez, Michael Garcia, and Mark Dyke playing the starring roles.
Starters Garcia and Rhanzelle Yong added 13 and 12 points while Dyke hauled down 15 rebounds for Pampanga.
Mitchelle Maynes tallied 12 points and eight rebounds and Jonathan Ablao scored 10, but their efforts weren't enough as La Union is now on the brink of absorbing a second straight finals setback to Pampanga.
A cause of concern for the PAOwer is the status of Jayson Apolonio, who suffered a knee injury during the title opener.
Apolonio, a key player in La Union’s semifinal series win over Muntinlupa, posted 10 points, six rebounds and two assists before the injury.
Pampanga 98 — Hernandez 19, Serrano 17, Garcia 13, Yong 12, Gania 12, Dyke 7, Liangco 7, Tamayo 6, Manaloto 2, Binuya 2, Baluyut 1, David 0, Santos R. 0, Santos J. 0, Pascual D. 0.
La Union 69 — Maynes 12, Ablao 10, Apolonio 10, Pascua 9, Llona 8, Silverie 3, Francisco 3, Agulan 3, Gurtiza 2, Gatchalian 2, Pambid 2, Boado 0, Doliente 0, Caasi 0.
Quarters: 25-18, 49-38, 88-48, 98-69.