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MPBL: Basilan, Nueva Ecija, Pasig sweep groups, aim for semis berths


Basilan, Nueva Ecija and Pasig carry the momentum of sweeping their groups when they tackle different opponents in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL quarterfinal round on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Powered by Encho Serrano, Basilan Jumbo Plastic nipped Makati-FSB, 80-79, while the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards subdued the Muntinlupa Cagers, 84-72, on Monday to duplicate the feat of the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors, who trounced the Negros Muscuvados, 85-73, in the concluding elimination round games.
Also-ran Bulacan (2-3) created a stir when it stunned Manila, 98-89, in Group D and denied the Stars (3-2) a quarterfinals stint.
Completing the quarterfinals cast are San Juan GFG AICC and Imus Buracai De Laiya, which beat Rizal EMKAI Xentromall, 90-79.
Pasig Sta. Lucia, which finished 5-0 in Group C, is pitted against dangerous San Juan-GFG AICC (3-1 in Group A) at 2:30 p.m., while Basilan (4-0 in Group B) tackles Mindoro EOG Burlington (4-1 in Group D) at 5 p.m.
Nueva Ecija (4-0 in Group C) tangles with Iloilo United Royals (4-1 in Group C) at 10 p.m. following the 7:30 p.m. encounter between Bicol LCC Malls (3-1 in Group B) and Imus (4-1 in Group D).
The Bicol-Imus tussle is expected to be tightly contested and so is the Pasig-San Juan encounter.
Aware of San Juan’s offensive might, Pasig coach Bong Dela Cruz is hoping the Realtors’ defense would hold.
“Right now siyempre yung iniisip ko yung game bukas (Tuesday) against San Juan kasi napakalakas din ng San Juan so iniisip ko na yung depensang gagawin namin sa kanila,” said Dela Cruz. “Sana talaga ma-execute namin yung defense namin bukas.”
Basilan coach Jerson Cabiltes, who steered Basilan to the Chooks-to-Go Vismin Super Cup title, is putting his team’s scrambling victory over Makati behind.
“It’s gonna be back to zero already. It’s a win-or-go-home game so definitely, we’re gonna go all out tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Cabiltes, baring that they’ve beaten the Mindoro Tamaraws in another tournament before.
Cabiltes is pinning his hopes on Serrano, who scored 29 points against Makati, and Michael Juico, who added 13 points, Jay Collado (10) and Jonathan Uyloan (10) to carry the offensive load once again against the Tamaraws.
Nueva Ecija coach Carlo Tan was displeased with the team’s erratic start against Makati, but is hopeful Bryon Villarias, Will Gozum, Michael Mabulac and Roi Sumang will deliver anew against Iloilo.

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Written by Tempo Desk

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