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MPBL: Nueva Ecija, Batangas secure No. 2 spots


Defending champion Nueva Ecija and inaugural titlist Batangas closed their elimination round campaigns with routine wins on Thursday in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.

The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards subdued the Pasay Voyagers, 88-79, while the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics routed the GenSan Warriors, 75-58.

In the process, Nueva Ecija and Batangas secured the No. 2 spots in the North and South divisions of the 29-team tournament.

Nueva Ecija finished the round-robin eliminations with a 23-5 record, tailing only the Pampanga Giant Lanterns (25-2) in the North division with one game to go.

With a 22-6 slate, Batangas also landed at the second spot in the South division behind Bacoor (22-5) with one game left.

Led by Jonathan Uyloan, Nueva Ecija finally broke free from Pasay, 75-67, midway through the fourth quarter and was never headed by the Voyagers, who ended up with a 17-11 card.

Uyloan tallied 18 points and 5 rebounds, followed by Roi Sumang, Michael Mabulac, Michael Juico, Pamboy Raymundo and Jay Collado with 8 points each.
Pasay got 15 points each from Alejandro Inigo and AJ Coronel.

Trailing at halftime, 27-29, the Athletics found their rhythm in the fourth quarter where they poured 30 points against only nine for the Warriors, who finished with a 21-7 and the third slot in the South heading to the playoffs.

Jong Baloria posted 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists for Batangas, which also got 13 points from Levi Hernandez, and 10 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists plus 2 steals from Jeckster Apinan.

#ReadMore  John Amores heads to Munti

GenSan got 15 points from veteran John Wilson, but no other Warrior could score in double figures.

Caloocan dumped Sarangani, 138-59, in the opener and closed out with a 20-8 slate.

Gabe Espinas led six Batang Kankaloo in double figures with 21 points and 5 rebounds, followed by Paul Sanga with 18 points, Jeramer Cabanag with 16 points plus 7 rebounds, Nhomer Gonzales and Reil Cervantes with 13 points each, and Jacob with 10.

The MPBL visits the Imus Sports Complex on Friday with Muntinlupa battling Bataan at 4 p.m., Valenzuela tackling Or. Mindoro at 6 p.m., and Makati testing Imus at 8 p.m.

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