The Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards released the dynamic skills of Roi Sumang, overpowering the Batangas City Embassy Chill Athletics with a final score of 68-56 in the OKBet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Fifth Season at the Batangas City Coliseum. This intense clash took place on Monday, showcasing the determination and talent of both teams.
Sumang showcased his brilliance in the second half, pouring in all 16 points. With a tied score of 31-31 at halftime, the defending champions shattered the deadlock and took control of the game. Their relentless effort resulted in their 13th victory, with only a single loss, during the single round-robin elimination phase of the 29-team tournament.
Although Jeckster Apinan of Batangas City opened the third quarter with a bucket, Sumang burned a 13-point surge for the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards. This deluge of scoring proved impossible for the Athletics, leading them to suffer their third defeat out of 14 games.
Despite Juneric Baloria’s four-point burst, bringing the Athletics within reach at 49-56, Sumang, a former standout from the University of the East Red Warriors, extinguished their hopes by delivering back-to-back triples. This extended the Rice Vanguards’ lead to their most significant margin of 62-49, with 4:35 minutes remaining.
Sumang’s impressive display included converting 3 out of 5 attempts from beyond the arc. At the same time, Chris Bitoon contributed two successful shots out of 3, allowing Nueva Ecija to earn 24 crucial points from long range.
In contrast, Batangas struggled with their three-point shooting, converting only 1 out of 20 attempts. Mike Juico made significant contributions for Nueva Ecija, impressing Coach Jerson Cabiltes with 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Bitoon also played a vital role, adding 10 points and three assists to the team’s success.
Batangas, the inaugural champion of the MPBL Anta Rajah Cup, relied on Apinan’s 14 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and three assists, and Baloria’s 14 points, three rebounds, and two steals.
During the Nueva Ecija-Batangas game, a heavy downpour caused roof leaks and moistened parts of the playing court, resulting in a 30-minute interruption. Fortunately, the rain eventually subsided, allowing the game to resume after MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes deemed it feasible.
Meanwhile, the GenSan Warriors relied on John Wilson’s superb performance, scoring 19 points, including five successful three-pointers, to narrowly defeat the Iloilo United Royals with a score of 86-84. With this victory, the Warriors elevated their record to 9-4 in the league standings. Despite Joshua Flores’ impressive 25-point performance, Iloilo suffered their fifth consecutive loss, dropping to 5-10.
The MPBL action continues at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan today, Tuesday, featuring an exciting triple-header. The games include Valenzuela versus Bicol at 4 p.m., Pampanga against Rizal at 6 p.m., and Imus against San Juan at 8 p.m. Basketball enthusiasts can anticipate another exciting day of intense competition and exceptional skills showcased by these teams.
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