Gabo Gabo delivers for Nueva Ecija.

Nueva Ecija rides Gabo’s heroics to take MPBL opener

December 4, 2022 People's Tonight 197 views

PALAYAN CITY — Nueva Ecija leaned on Hesed Gabo’s timely explosion to subdue Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, 81-75, in the opener of their OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season Presented by Xtreme National Finalsat the jampacked Nueva Ecija Coliseum here Friday.

The crack guard poured in 18 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarte47 seconds left.

Gabo, a former Mapua Cardinal, also grabbed 6 rebounds and issued 6 assists to earn best player honors and frustrate the Zamboanguenos, who gamely battled the favored Rice Vanguards from the get-go.

John Bryon Villarias also shone for Nueva Ecija 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 for the Rice Vanguards of Coach Jerson Cabiltes.

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.

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

Mabulac became the 13th member of the MPBL 1000-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.

Jaycee Marcelino also handed 8 assists, snared 7 rebounds and pulled off 2 steals for Zamboanga Coach Vic Ycasiano.

Hundreds of Nueva Ecija fans who could not be accommodated in the venue contented themselves watching the game via a giant screen at a nearby open space provided by the Local Government Unit led by Mayor Rianne Cuevas.

Nueva Ecija will try to make it back-to-back against Zamboanga in Game 2 on Monday at the same venue before the best-of-five playoffs fly to Zamboanga on Dec. 9.