GINGOOG CITY – Cheered on by their home fans, the host Misamis Oriental Meteors began the formal defense of their Liga Pilipinas National Championship with a heart-stopping 75-73 escape over the MP Warriors of GenSan late Wednesday (September 9) at the Arturo S. Lugod Memorial Sports and Cultural Center to begin the Smart Liga Pilipinas Conference III Misamis Oriental Leg.

Falling behind early, the Meteors of Gov. Oscar Moreno and Coach Jun Noel employed an intense full-court press in the second half that slowly melted away the Warriors’ lead which stood as high as 18 markers in the second period.

Guard Lyndon Gudez, playing in his second Liga conference, led the winners with 21 points via four triples. Patrick Cabahug, who last played for the Meteors in the Conference I playoffs, returned to the roster and made 13 points. Jonjon Gonzaga paced the Warriors of Manny Pacquiao and Coach Ramon Pido with 17 while Dennis Concha added 12 points and seven rebounds.

In the first game, the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos of Michel J. Lhuillier and Coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba leaned on a Bruce Dacia triple in the waning seconds of regulation to register their come from behind victory over cross city rival Cebu Landmaster-Mandaue, 70-66.

It was a sorry loss for Landmaster of Joe Soberano and Coach Jun Tan, which led practically for the entire contest until Dacia’s heroics, the sole lead change of the game. The Ninos thus remained the only undefeated team in conference supported generously by Smart, Accel, Molten, Calcium-Cee, Gatorade, Air 21 and Burlington and sanctioned by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

Dacia, named MVP of the Cebu Leg three weeks ago, continued his good play with 23 points to power the Ninos. Woodraw Enriquez chipped in 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Former Nino Jercules Tangkay engaged Dacia in a shootout to finish with 19 points, five rebounds and two steals. Jerrome Ceniita backed up Tangkay with 12 markers..

Liga Pilipinas action moves to the Xavier University Gym today (September 11) for the big rematch of last conference’s National Finals between the Meteors and the Ninos. The Meteors prevailed in the highly emotional best-of-five series, 3-2. Tip-off is at 6:00 PM. The Warriors and Landmaster meet in the opener at 4:00 PM.

How They Scored:
First Game
CEBU (70) – Dacia 23, Enriquez 18, Nailon 10, Padilla 6, Mepana 5, Santos 4, Ababon 2, Saladaga 1, Basco 1.

MANDAUE (66) – Tangkay 19, Cenita 13, Solis 9, Bucao 7, Alcaraz 6, Latonio 6, Llanto 4, Mercado 2, Berame 0, Cainglet 0.

Period Scores: 9-14, 24-33, 42-51, 70-66.
Second Game
MISAMIS ORIENTAL (75) – Gudez 21, Cabahug 13, Daja 7, Saldua 6, Moreno 5, Butel 4, Tagupa 4, Clavel 3, Kong 3, Pupos 3, Mamaclay 3, Guiyab 2, Barcellano 1, Sanchez 0.

GENERAL SANTOS (73) – Gonzaga 17, Concha 12, Mendoza 10, Rubi 6, Farochillen 5, Cabatu 5, Tadena 4, Locsin 4, Coronado 4, Sagad 3, Medalla 3, Recustodio 0, Callo 0, Illanga 0.

Period Scores: 16-17, 28-40, 47-59, 75-73

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