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Nueva Ecija matches PH's longest winning streak with rout of Marikina at start of MPBL Playoffs

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Nueva Ecija equaled the longest single-season winning streak in a professional basketball league with a 103-71 rout of Marikina to open their MPBL Northern Division quarterfinal series on Saturday night at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan.

The Rice Vanguards became only the second team to win in 22 consecutive games within the same season, matching the feat made by the Manila Metrostars in the 1999 MBA season.

Known to start the game slow only to pull away in the end, Nueva Ecija quickly turned on the jets right at the get-go, quickly opening a double-digit lead, 27-17, at the end of the first quarter.

The team then held Marikina to just 11 points in the second quarter to pull away for good.

Renz Palma went 8-for-8 on two-point shots to finish with 16 points with one rebound, three assists, and four steals for the Rice Vanguards, who can shatter the national record with a Game 2 win.

Initially scheduled for next Saturday in San Fernando City, Pampanga, the said game plus Game 2 of the Bataan-Pampanga series will be played at a later date.

The Giant Lanterns opened their own playoff first-round tie against the Risers with an 82-75 win.

Pampanga took the thunder out of Bataan in the final quarter, outscoring them, 29-19, to steal the victory.

Archie Concepcion led the Giant Lanterns, who can clinch the series at home, with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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