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MPBL: Pampanga weathers Bataan storm, books semis clash vs Nueva Ecija


Pampanga weathered Bataan’s final assault to prevail, 66-62, on Friday and barge into the semifinal round of the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the jampacked Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Dominick Vera canned his two free throws with 1.5 seconds left to seal the outcome for the giant Lanterns, who bested the Risers, 2-1, in their best-of-three North division quarterfinal series.

Pampanga moved ahead, 64-56, but Bataan refused to give up with Arvie Bringas drilling in a corner triple, Kristoffer Torrado driving in and Ric Gallardo splitting his charities to make it, 64-62, only 14.8 seconds left.

Unlike in Game 2, however, when the Giant Lanterns crumbled and yielded an 83-85 decision, they stood their ground this time to advance to the semifinals against the unbeaten Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards on Monday at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.

Archie Concepcion and Christopher Lagrama led Pampanga with 13 points each, followed by Vera and Earnest Reyes with 10 each. Reyes also hauled down 10 rebounds.

Bataan got 14 points each from James Castro and 10 from Kristoffer Torrado.

Bataan clawed back from an 11-point deficit to knot the count at 30, but back-to-back baskets by Pampanga, the last by Concepcion enabled Pampanga to take the half, 34-30.

Again, Bataan tied the count at 42 following a triple by Ron Lastimosa, but Pampanga bunched eight points to regain control before Arvie Bringas split his 2 charities to make the count at 50-43

The MPBL concludes its quarterfinal round on Saturday with a South division doubleheader pitting General Santos City against Bacolod at 5:30 p.m.and Batangas against Bacoor at 9 p.m.at the Batangas City Coliseum.

#ReadMore  Soberano reflects on San Beda's tough journey to the top seed

The winners of the Game 3 deciders will advance to the semifinals against early qualifiers Zamboanga and Rizal, respectively.

Also waiting in the best-of-three division semifinals are unbeaten Nueva Ecija in the North division, and Pasig and San Juan, which will collide in the South division.

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