Nueva Ecija handed Val City-MJAS Zenith a 23-point beating, 100-77, for its second straight win in the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational at the Mall of Asia Arena, Thursday morning.
With the victory, the Rice Vanguards tied San Juan-Go for Gold AICC at the top spot in Pool C with identical 2-0 slates.
The Rice Vanguards built a 45-29 lead at the half before breaking away in the fourth frame with a 41-point advantage, 83-42, off a Will Gozum layup in the 8:36-mark.
Bitoon led the balanced offensive attack with 16 points laced with five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Gozum also had 16 points to go along with nine rebounds. Team captain Renz Palma and Byron Villarias chipped in 14 markers apiece.
Roi Sumang set the tone early as well for Nueva Ecija, scoring seven of his 10 points during the first quarter. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
“I think the guys they’re knowledgeable enough about the game,” said Nueva Ecija head coach Carlo Tan. “They know that the last game could’ve been played better, so I think they were determined to play better today. So the credit goes to them.
“Whenever a win like this happens it’s not the coaching. It’s players coming to play and seeing it through like playing for 40 minutes,” he added.
On the other hand, Patrick Cabuhag poured a game-high 28 points for Val City on 7-of-20 shooting from the field.
Dave Moralde had 10 points, four assists, and four rebounds. Robbi Darang chipped in eight markers and four rebounds.
Val City (1-2) is tied with Sarangani (1-2). On the other hand, Muntinlupa is still winless at 0-2.
Nueva Ecija will look to break the tie with San Juan on Sunday at 6:30 PM. Meanwhile, Val City will go up against Sarangani on Saturday at 7:30 PM.
Nueva Ecija (100) – Bitoon 16, Gozum 16, Palma 14, Villarias 14, Sumang 10, Mabulac 10, Gutang 9, Dario 5, Sarao 4, Belgica 2, Balucanag 0.
Valenzuela (77) – Cabahug 28, Moralde 10, Darang 8, Villafranca 7, Ugsang 7, Mojica 6, Elmejrab 4, Armenion 4, Delator 2, Bauzon 1, Roncal 0, Cachuela 0.
Quarterscores: 21-14, 45-29, 77-42, 100-77