Vice Mayor Isko Moreno tosses the ceremonial ball with MASCO chair Nino dela Cruz (right) and Liga's Butch Antonio

* * *MANILA – Jonathan Pinera scored on a perfect assist pass from Roberts Labagala with five seconds remaining to lift the visiting Quezon Red Oilers over the host Manila Capitals, 75-73, at the start of the Manila Leg of the 2009 Smart Liga Pilipinas Conference II Wednesday at the San Andres Sports Complex.

* * *The Red Oilers of Gov. Raffy Nantes and Coach Oliver Bunyi squandered a 12-point lead entering the final period, 61-49.* The Caps, who are supported by Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, leaned on 12 points by Ronnie Zagala and six by Dennis Concha to close the gap.* Zagala then tied the game with his final basket, 73-73, and 17 ticks to play.

* * *After Kris Robles scored the first two points of the game, the Red Oilers went on a 16-0 tear behind Jorel Canizares and Pinera.* The Red Oilers then held on to take the first period, with Ryan Regalado scoring on a long triple at the buzzer, 21-15.

* * *Canizares led the Red Oilers with 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals followed by Pinera with 14 and Labagala with 12.* Zagala finished with 20 markers.* Billy Moody added 14 markers, 11 coming in the first half.

* * *Simple rites in between both games opened the four-team tournament, the seventh of 11 scheduled in the conference sponsored by Smart, ML Kwarta Padala, Air 21, Accel, Burlington, Laptop Phoneshop Exchange, Nature’s Spring and Molten and sanctioned by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

* * *In the first game, the defending National Champion M. Lhuillier-Cebu Ninos crushed the MP Warriors of GenSan, 89-67.

* * *The Ninos of Michel Lhuillier and Coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba ceded the first period to the Warriors of Manny Pacquiao and Coach Ramon Pido, 16-15.* The Warriors went on an 8-0 run that overturned their 7-13 deficit.

* * *However, it was an all-Cebu show from there onwards.* Stephen Padilla began the second period with a triple and Bruce Dacia went to work by unloading 13 of the Ninos’ next 29 points to handily grab the half, 47-30.

* * *So dominating were the Ninos that they erected their biggest lead of the game midway in the third period, 61-38, on a basket by Mark Ababon.* The Warriors managed to come to their closest early in the fourth canto, 61-75, but Padilla, Ababon and Alex Cainglet rained the last three of the Ninos’ 11 total triples to return to their 24-point cushion, 89-65.

* * *Dacia topped the Ninos with 19 points while Marlon Basco added 14 points and 13 rebounds.* Jonjon Gonzaga paced the Warriors with 18 followed by Dondon Mendoza with 15 points and nine rebounds.