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Reigning Liga Pilipinas national champion Misamis Oriental Meteors open defense of their crown at home against three familiar rivals today in the Smart Liga Pilipinas Conference III Misamis Oriental leg at the Arturo S. Lugod Memorial Sports and Cultural Center here.

Out to challenge the wards of Gov. Oscar Moreno and coach Jun Noel are the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños, Cebu Landmaster-Mandaue and the MP Warriors of GenSan, who with the Meteors were members of the Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association (MVBA) from 2006 to 2007. 

The MVBA merged with the National Basketball Conference (NBC) to give birth to Liga Pilipinas in 2008.

The Meteors and the Warriors of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao clash at 6 p.m. with former boasting of eight members of the champion team, including Ramil Tagupa, Lyndon Gudez, Mark Moreno, Rocky Sanchez, Jerome Numeran and Mark Kong, Erian Daja and Philip Butel.

The Meteors then re-acquired shooter Patrick Cabahug, signed free agents Eder Saldua, Arden Guiyab and newcomers Neil Raneses, Melvin Mamaclay and Rocky Clavel to bolster their roster.

The Warriors of coach Ramon Pido, on the other hand, hope to improve their third place finish in the Cebu leg three weeks ago. But they must draw big games from the likes of Dondon Mendoza, Christian Cabatu, Louie Medalla, Don Tadena, Apol Coronado, Jethrone Recustodio, Dennis Concha, Jomer Rubi and Bob Cozy Ilanga.

In the first game, Cebu leg winner Ninos clash with cross-town rival Landmaster. The Ninos are the only undefeated team in the conference backed by Smart, Accel, Molten, Calcium-Cee, Gatorade, Air 21 and Burlington and sanctioned by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

The Ninos have 15 Liga Tour points from their four-game sweep of their home leg for third place in the overall rankings. The Pampanga leg champion Trace-Laguna Stallions show the way with 19 points while Taguig leg winner Forward Taguig has 18 points.

The Smart-Pampanga Buddies are in fourth with 14 points.  

Gingoog City will also host tomorrow’s games with Liga action shifting to the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro City for Friday’s games and Saturday’s leg championship match.

Selected games from the MisOr leg will be shown over Solar Sports next week from Wednesday to Saturday.

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