Powerhouse Nueva Ecija moved on the verge of a historic sweep with a 77-66 beating of Pasig on Wednesday in the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the Laguna Sports Complex in Sta. Cruz.
The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards posted their 20th straight win and need only to beat the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics on Oct. 7 to complete a dominant run in the single round-robin elimination phase of the 22-team tournament.
Powered by Michael Mabulac and Michael Juico, Nueva Ecija pulled away at 59-46 and warded off Pasig’s rallies to pull down the Realtors to 13-6.
Mabulac wound up with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Juico contributed 15 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds for Coach Jerson Cabiltes’ charges.
Nueva Ecija started cold, allowing Pasig to take control at 25-17 before shifting to high gear with its running game that netted the Rice Vanguards 19 points against just three for the Realtors, who git 15 points from Ryan Paule Costelo, 12 from Robbie Manalang and 10 from Carlo Lastimosa.
Other games saw Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines dump Quezon City MG Cars, 96-71, and the Muntinlupa Cagers trounce Quezon City MG Cars, 82-67.
Zamboanga clustered 20 points, nine by Jayvee Marcelino, bridging the third and fourth quarters to take the fight out of Quezon City, 85-58, and tally its 15th win against 3 losses.
Jaycee ended up with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists to complement the 18-point, 3-assist, 3-steal effort of twin brother Jayvee Marcelino.
Other major contributors for Zamboanga were Reden Celda with 12 points and 3 rebounds, Chris Dumapig with 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Chito Jaime with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Jerick Nacpil posted 22 points and 10 rebounds for Quezon City, which slipped to 8-10.
Muntinlupa banked on John Cantimbuhan Jr.’s 22 points and Domark Matillano’s 13 to climb to 4-14, just behind Imus, which holds the eighth spot with a 5-13 card in the South division. Laguna tumbled to 3-15.
Imus holds the eighth spot with a 5-13 card.
The MPBL goes to the Batangas City Coliseum on Thursday. Games on tap are San Juan-Rizal at 5 p.m., Bacolod-Makati at 7 p.m. and Caloocan against Batangas at 9 p.m.