Ablaza and Apinan lead Batangas to a heartfelt victory over Makati

Cedric Ablaza, Jeckster Apinan, Rudy Lingganay, and Jhong Baloria were finally able to close a chapter in their lives 492 days after being dumped by Makati.

The quartet led Batangay City-Embassy Chill to a 93-59 victory over their former team Makati MNL Kingpins in the 4th season of the OKbet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League presented by Xtreme on Saturday at Muntinlupa Sports Complex.

Batangas won its eighth game in a row thanks to 12 points and 10 rebounds from Ablaza, 10 points and five rebounds from Apinan, four steals and three assists from Lingganay, and eight points and seven assists from Baloria.

More importantly, they defeated their former team after a contentious exit last year.

The third game of the MPBL Lakan Northern Finals was played on March 11, 2021. However, due to a contract dispute with the players, Makati only fielded five players in the game against San Juan.

Makati, who was then backed by Super Crunch, was blown out by the Knights, effectively ending the season.

Batangas head coach Cholo Villanueva downplayed his team’s emotions before the game, but he was happy for his players.

“I’m just so happy for my players, especially Ablaza, Rudy, Jhong, and Jecks, because they finally closed a chapter,” said Villanueva, a former Makati head coach. “They’ve been carrying this for a year, and I’m just proud that they didn’t let their emotions get in the way of their performance in this game.”

“They just focused, and the results showed it,” the La Salle product explained.

It was a dominant wire-to-wire game for Batangas, racing to a 19-9 start and never looking back.

As the minutes went by, the lead only grew wider and wider, reaching a peak of 37 points — which was the final score.

Levi Hernandez led Makati in scoring with 15 points while Dawn Ochea added 11.

“They played for each other in this game,” lauded Villanueva.

Makati, who dropped to 1-9, was led by Jan Sobrevega with 15 points while Larry Arpia added 11 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

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