Liga Pilipinas’ centerpiece rivalry will add another chapter after the defending National Champion Misamis Oriental Meteors and former champion M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos crushed separate opponents Thursday evening to arrange a titular showdown for the Smart Liga Pilipinas Conference III Zamboanga City Leg at the Summit Centre of the Universidad de Zamboanga.
The Meteors of Gov. Oscar S. Moreno and Coach Jun Noel punished the Latinos in the main game, 122-77, and remained in the hunt for the second automatic seat in November’s Super Leg that will crown the next National Champion of the league backed by Smart, Accel, Molten, Calcium-Cee, Gatorade, Air 21 and Burlington and sanctioned by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Melvin Mamaclay topped the Meteors with 24 points and 10 rebounds followed by Patrick Cabahug with 21 points off five triples. The reliable duo of Christopher Concepcion and Charleston Bolias again led the Latinos with 24 and 14 markers respectively but lacked support from the rest of the team.
The defending National Champion Misamis Oriental Meteors of Gov. Oscar S. Moreno earlier fueled their hopes of gaining an outright Super Leg seat with a 95-64 dumping of the EKB-Apayao Rapids of Gov. Elias K. Bulut. Patrick Cabahug top scored with 28 markers.
The Meteors under Coach Jun Noel flexed the same deadly form that made them win the tough Second China-ASEAN Invitational last week in Guangxi Zhuang, China where they represented the Philippines and defended the crown won by Smart Gilas last year.
“The China trip raised the players’ individual confidence and bonded the team closer,” said Coach Noel. “We learned a lot playing against taller opponents and our outside shooters clicked well.”
Meanwhile, the Ninos of Michel J. Lhuillier and Coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba stretched their undefeated card to 14-0 by punishing the Rapids of Gov. Elias K. Bulut, 107-72.
The same players from Wednesday’s 123-97 thrashing of the host Latinos reprised their roles with Ian Saladaga powering the blowout with 18 points and four assists. Stephen Padilla added 13 as six other Ninos submitted at least eight markers in a balanced attack. Leimar Navarro paced the Rapids with 12 points. Gester Ebuen recovered from a scoreless outing against the Meteors the other day by knocking in 11 points.
How They Scored:
MISAMIS ORIENTAL (122) – Mamaclay 24, Cabahug 21, Clavel 13, Barcellano 12, Lamocha 11, Moreno 8, Saldua 8, Sanchez 8, Daja 7, Numeran 6, Butel 2, Misa 2, Guiyab 0.
ZAMBOANGA (77) – Concepcion 24, Bolias 14, Necesito 11, Rebollos 6, Lozano 6, Merced 6, Dellena 5, Climaco 4, Yap 1, Fabian 0.
Period Scores: 23-15, 63-34, 97-50, 122-77.