ZAMBOANGA ‒ Playing in front of a packed crowd, the Zamboanga Valientes were greeted by a warm welcome by their local folks who watched them play as the province’s first professional basketball team.
The Valientes rewarded their hometown crowd with a 102-94 victory over the SND Barracudas in the GlobalPort-VisMin Super Cup late Saturday night at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum here.
Reed Juntilla returned to the team he used to play for three years ago in the MPBL and quickly made his presence felt, unloading a game-high 28 points as the man known as “El Fuego” torched the defense with a barrage of baskets coming from everywhere.
Joining Zamboanga in the winner’s circle on opening day were the CPG Bohol Dolphins, the OCCCI Ormoc Sheer Master and KalosPh of Eastern Samar.
The Dolphins bucked the absence of Mark Yee and showed balance firepower in defeating the Tubigon Mariners, 82-74.
Nikko Panganiban stepped up and finished with 14 points to go along with six boards while import Joel Gonzallo added 12 markers and six rebounds.
Lester Reyes, a member of San Juan Knights’ 2019 MPBL champion squad, missed a rebound away from posting a double-double performance. He had 10 points while Jhong Bondoc added nine and Joel Bonganciso had eight for CPG, a crosstown rival of Tubigon.
Gabby Espinas and Chebueze Ikeh flexed their muscles inside the shaded lane to power OCCCI Ormoc to a convincing 90-82 win over McDavid ZamPen.
The NCAA’s first ever Rookie/MVP and a six-time PBA champion, Espinas pumped in 25 points on a steady 10-of-13 shooting from the field. He also dished out six assists and pulled down five rebounds whie providing the veteran leadership for the Sheer Master, who outscored their rivals in points in the paint, 56-36.
Ikeh, a member of Ateneo’s champion team in the UAAP a few years ago, came away with 20 points, 22 rebounds and three blocks.
KalosPh Sportswear subdued Macfi-Basilan, 66-59, with Eugene Toba producing 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks as the NCAA champion, who played for San Beda four years ago, was a solid presence on both ends of the floor for his team.