Nueva Ecija goes for MPBL crown

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Nueva Ecija seeks a sweep as Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines fights for life in Game 3 of the OKbet-MPBL Season 4 National Finals tonight at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.

The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards thwarted the Zamboangueños, 81-75, in Game 1 and 75-74 in Game 2, both at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum, to move within a win of completing a brilliant run that saw them sweep the elimination round and capture the North division title.

Zamboanga, however, is no pushover and will pour everything to give joy to the hometown crowd.

The Zamboangueños have shown their worthiness as South division champions, crumbling only in the last six minutes of Game 1 and simply running out of time to reverse the outcome in Game 2.

Nueva Ecija coach Jerson Cabiltes wants to complete the task at hand tonight and prevent a Game 4 or the full Game 5 of the series.

“Sana (Hopefully),” Cabiltes said before his flight to Zamboanga yesterday morning. “Zamboanga is also strong.”

To achieve their goal, Cabiltes said the Rice Vanguards must not allow the Zamboangueños “to make another scoring run in the first half” and “take care of the ball much better.”

Cabiltes was referring to the spate of turnovers his wards committed in the homestretch that enabled the Zamboangueños to stage a final assault.

Nueva Ecija will again rely on MPBL Mythical Team members Will McAloney and Hesed Gabo and standouts Michael Mabulac, Michael Juico, John Bryon Villarias, Jay Collado and Chris Bitoon, who’s regaining his deadly form.

Gabo and Villarias are spearheading Nueva Ecija’s offense in the Finals thus far, averaging 14.5 and 14 points, respectively.


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