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Hubalde keys Valenzuela’s MPBL win

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(Batangas City Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Bulacan vs Navotas
9 p.m. – Bataan vs Batangas

Journeyman Paulo Hubalde drained the game-winning free throw with five seconds left as Valenzuela foiled Caloocan, 79-78, on Thursday night to barge into the winners’ column of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup.

Fouled by Supremos big man Dawn Ochea after receiving the inbound pass, the 5-foot-11 Hubalde made them pay as he split his charities from the 15-foot line to put the visiting Classic on top and silence the partisan crowd inside the Caloocan Sports Complex.

Hubalde, who suited up for several teams in the pro league, finished with 15 points on top of four rebounds and as many assists while Adrian Celada added 15 points off the bench to help Valenzuela bounce back after absorbing a 73-65 loss to Batangas over the weekend.

Former San Beda stalwart Mar Villahermosa scored 11 points but saw his last-gasp attempt just hit the backboard as time expired, leading to Caloocan’s second straight loss in as many outings.

Earlier, Muntinlupa saved its best for last as the Cagers defeated the Paranaque Patriots, 67-60, to join the winning circle.

Center Pari Llagas provided the offensive punch off the bench with 17 points while Dave Moralde and Allan Mangahas combined for 31 points but it was the Cagers’ rejuvenated defensive stance that spelled the difference down the stretch.