Inaugural staging runner-up Muntinlupa gave Ray Parks and the rest of Mandaluyong a rude welcome on opening night of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League's Datu Cup as the Angelis Resort-backed squad caged the El Tigre, 86-74 at the Araneta Coliseum late Tuesday.
The two teams locked in a bitter tug-of-war for the services of Parks went at it for 40 minutes, but in the end, the more cohesive Cagers were able to put one over the El Tigre.
PBA journeyman Chito Jaime led the way with 17 points while Alan Mangahas, also an ex-pro, contributed 16 points, six rebounds and five assists in an all-around game to lead the Cagers.
Dave Moralde tallied 12 and Felix Apreku had a double-double performance of 10 points and 16 boards as the balance Muntinlupa squad was able to outplay its rival.
The El Tigre, considered as the strong favorites in the tournament, got 21 points from Parks, who made bitter comments about officiating and felt that he was being singled out. The controversial son of seven-time PBA Best Import finished with 21 points, but was called for four offensive fouls, which took his rhythm out in the game.
"Those were not offensive fouls. I attended the orientation. They don't want me in this league," he added.
From 10 teams, the MPBL has expanded its league participation to 26, and on Independence Day, the league opened its second season with teams parading with a maximum of five personnel.
Among the show stealers from the 26 muses include volleyball player Michelle Gumabao (Makati Skyscrapers), beauty titlists Maxine Medina (Basilan) and Rachel Peters (San Juan) and Eat Bulaga talent Pareng Cenon (Marikina), and movie and television personality Empress Schuck (Zamboanga Valientes).