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Nueva Ecija tackles Marikina; Pampanga battles Bataan in OKbet-MPBL playoffs

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The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards aim to duplicate their success in the elimination round when they tackle the Marikina Shoemasters on Saturday, October, 15 at the start of the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.

Archie Concepcion will play a key role for Pampanga in the playoffs.

Flaunting a star-studded roster, Nueva Ecija posted a 21-game sweep of the eliminations and is favored to extend its dominance when it battles Marikina at 9 p.m. in the opener of their best-of-three series.

In their first tussle, the Rice Vanguards of Coach Jerson Cabiltes battered the Shoemasters, 99-77, and are again favored in the game to be shown over One PH (Ch. 1).

Pampanga also seeks a repeat over Bataan in the 5:30 p.m. opener also to be aired on One PH.

Unlike Nueva Ecija, however, Pampanga is bracing for another tough encounter as Bataan tested it to the hilt before yielding, 83-86, on September 12 at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Despite playing on a neutral venue, the Pampanga Giant Lanterns, who finished fourth in the North division eliminations at 14-7, are slight picks over the Bataan Risers, who ended up fifth at 13-8.

The elimination round ended on Friday with Muntinlupa beating Imus, 94-84, to clinch the eighth and last quarterfinal slot in the South division at the Caloocan Sports Complex.

Other no-bearing matches saw Batangas clobber Quezon City, 85-60, and Sarangani subdue also-ran Caloocan, 81-76.

Batangas’ Jeckster Apinan ended up with 10 points and joined the elite 1,000-point club. Apinan was rewarded the ball with which he scored the clinching points by MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

Batangas, who got 14 points from Juneric Baloria and 11 from Cedric Ablaza, finished at 17-4, Sarangani 16-5, Quezon City 9-12 in the North division and Caloocan 6-15, also in the North.

Kyt Jimenez, flashing the form that enabled him to post a quadruple-double (33 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, 11 steals) against Mindoro last week, again led Sarangani with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, followed by Paul Sanga with 15 points.

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