Nueva Ecija thwarts Pampanga; Marikina, Imus dump opponents – Malaya

NUEVA Ecija shifted to high gear in the fourth quarter and whizzed past Pampanga, 80-74, last Friday to move closer toward sweeping the elimination phase of the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Pasay City.
Trailing the Giant Lanterns for the most part, the Rice Vanguards found their range and toughened their defenses to seize control and tally their 19th straight win, just two victories shy of a perfect record in the single round-robin eliminations.
The game was still tied at 74, until Nueva Ecija managed to break free through Michael Mabulac and Hesed Gabo, who sealed the outcome with two free throws in the last 9.1 seconds.
Gabo wound up with 17 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds to earn best player honors, while Mabulac ended up with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Michael Juico scored 14 points and 5 rebounds against his former team, which saw its 8-win run broken for a 12-5 card.
According to Nueva Ecija coach Jerson Cabiltes his wards got bothered by Pampanga’s pressure defense.
“We made some adjustments and it worked,” said Cabiltes, who steered his team back from a 28-30 deficit.
Earlier games saw  Imus and Marikina rout their opponents to stay in the hunt for quarterfinal berths.
The Imus Bandera pounded an injury-stricken Rizal Xentromall, 91-74, while the Marikina Shoemasters dumped the Mindoro Tams, 101-60.
Antonio Joson shone for the Shoemasters with a triple-double of 20 points, including 5 triples, 15 rebounds and 14 assists.
Marikina, which climbed to 6-12, also got 18 points from Mark Terrence Garcia, 17 points plus 10 rebounds from Jexter Tolentino, 17 points from Nhomer Gonzales, 13 points from Dexter Mescallado and 10 points from Raymond Casajeros.
The also-ran Tams tumbled to a tournament-worst 1-17.
Imus, powered by Rene Pacquiao’s 24 points and 9 rebounds, improved to 5-13 while pulling down the Golden Coolers to 10-9.
Monbert Arong and Jacob Galicia added 13 points each for Imus, which also got 12 points from Adven Jess Diputado and 10 from Alynn Dyll Roncal.
Rizal starters Troy Mallillin and Jolo Mendoza and homegrown John Winfred Gob did not play due to injuries while veteran big man Mark Benitez got injured early in the game, leaving the offensive chores to Edgar Charcos, Alvin John Capobres and Keanu Caballero.
Charcos wound up with 19 points, Charcos 14 plus 10 rebounds and Caballero with 11.
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Mae Manatad

Mae Manatad

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