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Tiebreaker Times


Justin Arana, Nueva Ecija drag Quezon City out of MPBL playoff race

BALANGA, BATAAN — Nueva Ecija spoiled Quezon City-WEMSAP’s playoff chance after coming out with a dominant 92-74 victory in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Cup, Wednesday at the People Center Capitol Drive.

Nueva Ecija came out blazing hot, taking a 23-12 behind Justin Arana and Tonino Gonzaga in the first quarter. The Rice Vanguards then continued their surge in the second frame, with John Sarao converting a layup from a pass by Jai Reyes for their biggest lead of the ball game at 25, 50-25.

Mark Olayon was still able to trim the lead to 11 points, 59-70, with 8:28 remaining in the final canto. But Nueva Ecija came in ready, as Martinez and Gab Reyes joined hands in a 6-0 run to completely silence the Capitals.

“Yung tinuro lang sa ‘min nung coach namin na kasi… ‘Yung versus Pampanga, parang kanya-kanya kami,” recalled Arana about their 75-81 loss to the Giant Lanterns last Thursday that ended their playoff hopes. “Ngayon, sabi ni coach [Charles Tiu] need niya ng team work talaga kaya nagpasahan kami.”

Arana, an incoming senior in Arellano, pulled 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rice Vanguards.

Maclean Sabellina chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds, while Jai Reyes had an all-around outing of 12 points, eight assists, and seven board for Nueva Ecija.

On the other hand, Quezon City fell out of the playoff race with a 10-17 card.

Nueva Ecija, who is also out of the playoff race, rose to an 8-17 standing in the North Division.

Mon Mabayo and Mark Olayon paced Quezon City with 23 and 20 points, respectively.

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The Scores:

Nueva Ecija (92) Arana 19, Sabellina 13, J. Reyes 12, Martinez 9, Gonzaga 8, Monte 5, Celada 3, G. Reyes 3, Gotam 2, Tadeo 2, De Leon 0

Quezon City-WEMSAP (74) – Mabayo 23, Olayon 20, Tayongtong 13, Castro 8, Medina 6, Derige 2, Gaydon 2, Santiago 0, Olea 0, Sison 0, Atabay 0, Barua 0

Quarterscores: 23-12, 50-25, 69-53, 92-74

Story by Jonash Dannug

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