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Abra Surprises Pangasinan, Zamboanga Prevails Over Valenzuela in MPBL Season Inaugurals


In a thrilling matchup at the Calasiao Sports Complex in Pangasinan, Abra delivered a stunning victory over Pangasinan with an impressive performance from newcomer John Lloyd Clemente. Despite trailing, Clemente's sudden offensive explosion propelled Abra to an 83-75 triumph near midnight on Saturday in the latest season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

With Abra behind, 70-71, Clemente, recruited out of powerhouse Pampanga, clustered eight points with two triples sandwiching a layup, to push the Weavers ahead for good, 78-70, with 2 minutes and 9 seconds left.

Hesed Gabo and Ian Melencio tried to bail out Pangasinan with back-to-back baskets, but former 3x3 standout Mark Tallo of Abra defused the threat with a triple going to the last 43 seconds.

Tallo wound up with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals to lead the Weavers of Coach Jonathan Banal. The 6-foot slasher got ample support from Clemente with 12 points, Prince Caperal with 10, all in the first half; Michael Canete with 9 points, NCAA Season 99 MVL Clint Escamis with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists; and Wendelino Comboy with 8 points.

Conmboy's back-to-back triples, followed by a Tallo layup pushed Abra ahead, 70-64, before Pangasinan countered with seven straight points to briefly control, 71-70, with 4 minutes and 25 seconds left.

Then Clemente took over.

Pangasinan drew a game-high 26 points, plus 5 assists and 4 rebounds from Gabo, who reunited with Jerson Cabiltes, his former mentor with the 2022 MPBL champion Nueva Ecija, to head the Heatwaves, who got 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists from Ian Melencio, 10 points and 9 rebounds from Michael Mabulac and 9 points plus 3 rebounds from Ed Daquioag.

Earlier, Zamboanga Masters Sardines went through overtime before subduing the retooled Valenzuela Classic, 82-76.

Renzo Subido delivered for Zamboanga Coach Louie Alas in the extension with 5 points to preserve the heroics of former MVP Jaycee Marcelino, who poured 26 points and 8 rebounds, Rey Publico with 10 points, and Adrian Santos and Joseph Terso with 8 points each.

Valenzuela got 24 points from Dennis Santos, 12 from Orin Catacutan and 10 from Valandre Chauca.

With MPBL Founder Manny Pacquiao in attendance, the league's opening ceremonies were a spectacle to behold, setting the stage for an exciting season ahead.

Looking ahead, the MPBL action continues at the Kamalig Coliseum on Monday, featuring 3 games: Bicol against Mindoro at 4 p.m., Marikina against Negros at 6 p.m., and Sarangani against Bataan at 8 p.m. These three exciting matchups is a promise to deliver more thrills for basketball fans across the Philippines.

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