By Ivan Saldajeno
PASAY--Nueva Ecija booked the last ticket to the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational semifinals after walloping Iloilo, 84-67, in the last quarterfinal on Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In the showdown that ended just a few minutes before midnight, the Rice Vanguards slowly chipped the game away from the United Royals as it progressed.
The rout was sealed in the second half after Nueva Ecija dropped 27 third-quarter points and limited Iloilo to just 11 in the fourth.
Michael Mabulac made 17 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks for the Rice Vanguards, who will face the Imus Bandera in the semis on Wednesday night.
Byron Villarias added 16 markers, eight boards, one dime, and one steal.
Levi Hernandez dropped 26 points, one carom, and one steal for Iloilo.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno