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Nueva Ecija trips Batangas


The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards drew firepower from Roi Sumang and tripped the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics, 68-56, in the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Fifth Season at the Batangas City Coliseum.

Sumang poured all of his 16 points in the second half as the defending champions shattered a 31-31 tie at halftime and proceeded to notch their 13th win against one loss in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines overpowered Bataan, 74-55, earlier to climb to 11-3 while the GenSan Warriors banked on John Wilson’s 19 points to nip the Iloilo United Royals, 86-84, and rose to 9-4.

Batangas’ Jeckster Apinan scored the third quarter’s first bucket, but Sumang drove in to trigger a 13-point Nueva Ecija avalanche from which the Athletics were never able to recover as they suffered their third loss in 14 games.

The Athletics came to within 49-56 on Juneric Baloria’s four-point cluster, only for Sumang, a former stalwart of the University of the East Red Warriors, to quash their hopes with back-to-back triples that gave the Rice Vanguards their biggest spread, 62-49, with 4:35 left.

Sumang’s three triples out of five tries and Chris Bitoon’s 2-of-3 performance enabled Nueva Ecija to score 24 points from long range that turned out to be decisive as Batangas could only convert 1-of-20 triple tries.

Mike Juico also delivered for Nueva Ecija coach Jerson Cabiltes with 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals and so did Bitoon with 10 points plus three assists.


The Nueva Ecija-Batangas encounter was halted for nearly 30 minutes after the break as a heavy downpour opened up roof leaks and damped some parts of the playing court.


Batangas, the MPBL Anta Rajah Cup inaugural titlist, got 14 points, nine rebounds, four steals plus three assists from Apinan, and 14 points, three rebounds and two steals from Baloria.

The Nueva Ecija-Batangas encounter was halted for nearly 30 minutes after the break as a heavy downpour opened up roof leaks and damped some parts of the playing court.

Fortunately, the rains stopped and MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes allowed the game to continue.

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