Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines pulled away early then thwarted Nueva Ecija’s final rally to prevail, 88-80, Monday night and rule the 2023 MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Preseason Tournament at the Lagao Gym in Brgy. Lagao, General Santos City.
Working behind the troika of Dexter Maiquez, Judel Fuentes, and Jaycee Marcelino, Zamboanga stormed ahead at 44-21 and was never headed despite Nueva Ecija’s all-out effort to tilt the balance in the second half.
The most the Rice Vanguards could do was trim the gap at 74-78 following a 10-point outburst capped by Jay Collado’s inside foray and a triple, with 3:06 left.
Nueva Ecija coach Vic Ycasiano sued for time and Marcelino restored order with a triple.
Michael Juico answered for Nueva Ecija with an undergoal stab, but Zamboanga sealed its revenge against last year’s MPBL Fourth Season with a 7-point run highlighted by Judel Fuentes’ four charities.
It was Maiquez, however, who was named tournament MVP after compiling 29 points and 7 rebounds. Maiquez will received a 50-inch TV for Xtreme for his feat.
Marcelino ended up with 18 points, Fuentes 16, Collado 12 and Joshua Fontanilla 10.
Zamboanga bagged the champion’s purse of P3 million given by OKBet while Nueva Ecija settled for P500,000 courtesy of MPBL Founder and CEO Manny Pacquiao.
“Suerte. (We’re lucky), “ said Ycasiano, who bared that he’s still looking for more players to beef up Zamboanga’s roster for the MPBL Fifth Season set to start March 11 in Lucena City, Quezon.
Nueva Ecija Coach Jerson Cabiltes, on the other hand, told his wards back at the dugout that they allowed the Zamboanguenos to pummel them too much that when they fought back they were too battered to complete the recovery.
With Maiquez pouring 16 points and Fuentes and Marcelino adding10 each, Zamboanga took the half, 50-34. Nueva Ecija only had Michael Mabulac in twin digits in that span with 10.
MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and GAB (Games and Amusements Board) Chairman Atty. Richard S. Clarin threw Molten balls to the capacity crowd at halftime.
Imus SV Squad drew a monster performance from Jaymar Gimpayan and a double-double from Jayjay Helterbrand and routed Sarangani, 93-76, in their battle for third place.
The 6-foot-2 Gimpayan, a prized find from Oleras, Northern Samar who played for Our Lady of Fatima University, scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in addition to 3 assists and 2 blocks to earn best player honors.
Helterbrand, on the other hand, tallied 10 points and 11 assists for Imus, which also got 16 points from John Sherick Estrada and 13 points from Joseph Penaredondo.
Controlling the tempo of the game, Imus dominated Sarangani in rebounds (55-33) and assists (30-18) and led by as many as 26 points, 69-43, late in the third quarter.
Imus’ effort was worth P300,000 while Sarangani, which got 17 points from Orin Catacutan and 15 from Benjie Ramirez, settled for P200,000.