Philippine basketball

Gabo shines as Nueva Ecija subdues Zamboanga in MPBL finals opener
Gabo shines as Nueva Ecija subdues Zamboanga in MPBL finals opener

MATCH HERO. Nueva Ecija's Hesed Gabo (left) takes over against Zamboaga in Game 1.


Hesed Gabo goes on a scoring tear in the closing minutes as Nueva Ecija takes Game 1 of the best-of-five MPBL finals

MANILA, Philippines – Hesed Gabo struck when needed most as the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards subdued Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, 81-75, on Friday night, December 2, in the opener of their OKbet-MPBL (Maharika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme at the jampacked Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.

The crack point guard poured in the points, including a banking dagger triple, that sealed the outcome, 76-67, with only 47 seconds left.

Gabo, a former Mapua Cardinal, wound up with 22 points, 18 in the last 10 minutes, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists to earn Best Player honors and frustrate the Zamboanguenos, who gamely battled the favored Rice Vanguards from the get-go.

Nueva Ecija unleashed a 9-1 run closing the third quarter for a 56-48 lead.

Zamboanga, however, retaliated with a 7-point bomb, through Jaycee Marcelino and Jhapz Bautista, to tighten the game once again, 55-56.

Zambanga forged the last deadlock at 60, only to be met by a John Bryo Villarias triple and 2 charities by Gabo that set the tone of the finish.

Villarias also shone with 19 points while Michael Mabulac contributed 14 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out with 1:25 to go. Will McAloney also did his part with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Mabulac became the 13th member of the MPBL 1,000-point club and was given the ball he used to score the vital points by commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

Zamboanga got 15 points and 6 rebounds from Chris Dumapig and 12 points each from Marcelino and Jhapz Bautista, while Jayvee Marcelino chipped in 11 points.

Zamboanga barely took the half, 30-29, but Nueva Ecija dropped a 9-1 run to take the third quarter 56-48.

Nueva Ecija will try to make it back-to-back against Zamboanga in Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Monday at the same venue. –

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