BATANGAS CITY — Marlon Monte and ex-pro Jerwin Gaco combined forces for the Nueva Ecija-MiGuard, which carved out a pulsating 78-76 win over the Marikina Shoemasters in the MPBL Season 3 at the Batangas City Coliseum here.
Monte led the way with 19 points, including four of the last six points of the squad.
JR Cawaling’s putback with three seconds left off Monte’s missed lay up, however, sealed the win for Nueva Ecija.
Head coach Eric Gascon admitted the team struggled as they came to the venue a bit late than expected.
“Mahaba yung byahe namin. We just arrived mga quarter to six, allowed lang kami ng one hour to shoot around,” Gascon told FOX Sports Philippines in an exclusive interview. “Naubos halos yung oras namin kakahintay sa uniform namin.”
Coming in barely an hour before tip off nearly cost the game for Nueva Ecija, which missed a total of 14 free throws.
Gaco, a player rich in championship experience, also stepped up big for Nueva Ecija. He ended up with 17 points and nine rebounds while playing nearly 30 minutes for his new squad.
Both teams in a touch and go affair.
Nueva Ecija led by as many as 10 points, 42-32, off a Gaco basket in the 7:58 mark of the third.
In the fourth period, it was Marikina’s turn to gain some momentum as it led by as many as eight, 60-52, but a 14-2 run allowed Nueva Ecija to retake the lead, 66-62, and set up a close encounter down the stretch.