The Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines tried to extend the MPBL Finals to a crucial Game 5. However, the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards return to Region III as the champions of the fourth OKBET-MPBL season at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga City.
The Rice Vangauards managed to get back on their feet after Zamboanga sealed up their three-point. The win prevented a Game 5 from happening on their home court.
John Michael Villarias was Nueva Ecija’s top scorer and the Finals MVP after netting 14 points, ten rebounds, and two steals.
Zamboanga came roaring out of the gates, eager to bring the game to Nueva Ecija. They posed a serious threat to the Rice Vanguards after the first quarter ended at 15-15.
However, the match and series were settled when Jerson Cabiltes’ team started the second quarter with 14 unanswered points. It was a terrible error for Vic Ycasiano to call the timeout when Nueva Ecija was red-hot as they spent the remainder of the game trying to catch up.
Besides Villarias, Nueva Ecija’s ex-PBA Mikes, Michael Juico and Michael Mabulac, stepped up. Mabulac asserted his presence underneath the rim with 10 points, eight rebounds, and four assists on 46% shooting. Meanwhile, Juico finished with 11 points despite making only three of his seven free-throw attempts.
Calbites, who holds an impressive record of winning five straight titles in different basketball leagues, won in front of team owner Bong Cuevas, Palayan City Mayor Rianne Cuevas, and other Nueva Ecija VIPs. The players also brought their families to celebrate their win with them.
Atrocious Shooting Hurt Zamboanga’s MPBL Finals Comeback
Zamboanga’s hot start in the first quarter was undone by their inability to shoot the ball. Jaycee Marcelino and Chris Dumapig were the only Zamboanga players with more than five shot attempts at 40% shooting.
Marcelino was the only one carrying the team. He led all players in scoring in the last MPBL Finals game with 17. Ralph Tansingco, Zamboanga’s hero in Game 3, was misfiring from three-point land with only one three-point make to his name.
Jayvee Marcelino, another Zamboanga player who shone in Game 3 with his 22 points, was hardly felt in the do-or-die game. He only scored seven points on a terrible 11% shooting clip.
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