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Nueva Ecija completes MPBL regular season sweep with home win vs. Batangas City

By Ivan Saldajeno

PALAYAN--Nueva Ecija set MPBL history on Friday night after edging Batangas City at home, 84-72, at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum here.

With the win, the Rice Vanguards became the first team to complete a sweep of the regular season even as another date with history awaits them.

Nueva Ecija showed consistent offense especially in the final three quarters as the home team quickly overcame a bad start and outclassed Batangas City in front of a sold-out crowd.

Byron Villarias fired 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, and five steals for the Rice Vanguards, who have now won 21 straight games, tying the 1983 Crispa Redmanizers for the second-longest winning streak in Philippine professional basketball.

Up next for the Vanguards is the 22-game winning streak of the 1999 Manila Metrostars, which they could match with a Game 1 win against whoever among the Caloocan Excellence and Marikina Shoemasters will clinch the last playoff spot in the Northern Division.

Will McAloney added 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one block off the bench.

Ced Ablaza made 19 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block for Batangas City, which failed to force a tie with Zamboanga for the top spot in the Southern Division and instead dropped to 16-4, a full game behind 17-3 Zamboanga.

The outcome gives Zamboanga a chance to lock in the top seed in the South with a win against playoff-chasing Imus on Tuesday night in San Fernando City, Pampanga.

Ablaza, however, had a historic moment of his own as he became the latest member of the MPBL's 1,000 Points Club.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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