In their final face-off against San Juan Knights, the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards became the new OKBET-sponsored Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) North Division champion last November 25, at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum, Palayan City.
Led by Will McAloney, the Rice Vanguards finished off the Knights with a score of 84-68, ending the title playoffs with a standing of 2-1. He ended the game with 15 points and eight rebounds, a point shy from Byron Villarias’ 19, who made 5 of his six shots from three-point land.
Nueva Ecija became the new MPBL North Division champion when the match reached 82-68, and senator Jinggoy Estrada, co-owner of the Knights, approached the Rice Vanguards’ bench and admitted defeat. A massive cheer filled the coliseum from the over 6,000 fans present that day.
Other players that contributed to the newly crowned North Division were Christopher Bitoon (9pts, six assists, three rebounds), Michael Mabulac (8pts and 11 rebounds), and JR Taganas (7pts and 4 rebounds).
Although defeated, the Knights fought, especially during the first half of Game 3. Unfortunately, their offense and defense crumbled because of the Rice Vanguards’ relentless attacks.
In the end, Knights’ Orlan Wamar had a 16-point performance, while teammates Judel Fuentes and Dexter Maiquez scored 14 points in the losing effort.
The San Juan team had an outstanding performance in the free throw line, swishing 14 out of 15 attempts. Wamar perfected seven of his free throw attempts, leading all scorers.
Zamboanga Follows Nueva Ecija, Snags South Crown from Batangas City
Meanwhile, over at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City, the Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines beat Batangas City Embassy Chill to be crowned as the MPBL South Division champions last Monday, November 28.
The Sardines’ Jaycee Marcelino, and this year’s MPBL All-Star MVP, led his team with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals. However, their win was not an easy feat.
Throughout the entire match of Game 3, the Embassy Chill was leading. It reached a point where Batangas had a lead of 17 points twice.
However, the Sardines managed a comeback, upsetting their opponent 80-71. The newly crowned MBPL North and South champions will face each other in a five-game series this coming December 2 at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.