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Nueva Ecija scores huge offseason move, signs Banal for MPBL Season 4

Gab Banal is now taking his talents to the north. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--While the MPBL is on a surprise break due to the novel coronavirus, Nueva Ecija continued to beef up its lineup for the upcoming season.

On Thursday night, the Rice Vanguards completed the major acquisition of reigning MVP Gab Banal as confirmed by Coach Charles Tiu.

"It's a very big coup for us," said Tiu, who coached Banal at Mighty Sports during the Dubai International Basketball Championship and Go for Gold in the PBA D-League.

Banal was Bacoor City's franchise player during its first two seasons in the MPBL, leading the squad to the playoffs in both occasions while capturing the MVP honors last year.

In an Instagram post last week, however, Banal announced that he is leaving the Strikers after they failed to beat the Basilan Steel in the South Division Semifinals.

"Bacoor City will always be in my heart," said Banal, who thanked team owners Strike and Chaye Revilla for taking him into their fold.

Banal suffered an MCL sprain in Game 1 of the Bacoor City-Basilan series and never played in the next two games of the series both held at his team's home.

Banal is the latest big-time free agent acquired by Nueva Ecija following the signing of the Gomez De Liano Brothers.

In a related development, the team also announced the signing of Edzel Mag-isa. Mag-isa, who played for the Muntinlupa Cagers this season, will be assigned as one of the Rice Vanguards' homegrown players for next season.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_