MUNTINLUPA pulled away before halftime then fended off repeated Parañaque rallies to prevail 73-63 Thursday night in the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Season 5 at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Muntinlupa City.
The Cagers, who posted an early 41-23 lead and never looked back, were led by Biboy Enguio, a Filipino Indonesian residing in Alabang who scored a game-high 22 points and snagged 8 rebounds.
He was backstopped by Kemark Cariño who tallied 11 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in an auspicious debut in the country's biggest regional league.
Showing vast improvement following a stint with Aomori Wats in the Japan B-League Division 2 last year, Cariño, a former San Beda Red Lion, also blocked four shots to throw the Patriots' inside game into disarray.
Manuel Mosqueda and Dave Moralde also delivered for Muntinlupa coach Jack Azcueta with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Rommel Mangalino made just 3 points, but hauled 11 rebounds for Muntinlupa.
The Patriots, who briefly held the lead at 5-3, got 11 points each from homegrown Paolo Castro and John Udoba and 7 points and 14 rebounds from Mark Omega. Al Junsay, Keith Pido and Jemal Vizcarra scored 7 points each.
Earlier, the Bacoor City Strikers and the Negros Muscovados demolished their opponents.
The Strikers, powered by Mark Yee's 14 points and 15 rebounds, dumped the Manila Stars 76-62.
The Muscovados, on the other hand, rebounded from an opening-day loss to trounce the Mindoro Disiplinados 92-77.
Veteran Richard Albo fired 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Negros.