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MPBL: Batangas thumps Sarangani; Nueva Ecija nails 15th straight win

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MPBL: Batangas thumps Sarangani; Nueva Ecija nails 15th straight win
Mark Neil Cruz shines for Batangas.
MPBL

MANILA, Philippines – It was Mark Neil Cruz's turn to shine for Batangas City Embassy Chill on Tuesday as the Athletics subdued the  Sarangani Marlins, 75-66, in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season presented by Xtreme at the Batangas City Coliseum.

As expected, powerhouse Nueva Ecija thumped Muntinlupa, 102-85, stretching the Rice Vanguards' unbeaten run to 15 in the single-round robin elimination phase of the 22-team tournament.

Rizal also boosted its quarterfinal drive with a 95-73 trouncing of Makati in the opener. The Rizal Xentromall Golden Coolers climbed to 9-4 and pulled down Makati to 1-14.

Cruz knocked in seven straight points in the last two minutes to lift Batangas past Sarangani, 72-66, in the battle between the South division pacesetters.

Cedric Ablaza drilled in a triple with 36 seconds left for the final count that handed Batangas a 13-1 record in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 22-team tournament.

The Marlins dropped to 10-3 despite the 25-point, 12-rebound, five-steal and four-rebound effort of YouTube sensation Kyt Jimenez, who was held to two charities in the fourth quarter.

Cruz would up with 13 points and nine rebounds for Athletics Coach Cholo Villanueva, who also got 17 points and six rebounds from Levi Hernandez and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Jeckster Apinan.

Yvan Ludovice, whose back-to-back triples pushed Sarangani to within 66-69, ended up with 11 points.

Virtually an all-star roster, Nueva Ecija drew 18 points and nine rebounds from Will McAloney; 18 points, six rebounds and four assists from John Bryon Villarias; 14 points from Michael Juico; 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists from Hesed Gabo; 11 points from Jonathan Uyloan; and 10 points from JP Sarao, all scored in the first quarter.

Muntinlupa, which tumbled to 2-8, got 18 points from John Cantimbuhan Jr., 16 from Biboy Enguio and 14 from Ivan Villanueva.

MPBL founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao watched the games for the second straight day and threw away Molten balls to the fans who braved the heavy rains.

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