Host team Batangas City and expansion squad Nueva Ecija subdued tough opponents late Saturday in the third season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League at the Batangas City Coliseum.

Jeff Viernes knocked in 25 points to power inaugural staging champion Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay to a 79-70 victory over the Muntinlupa Cagers-Angelis Resort.

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Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay vs Muntinlupa Cagers-Ange (photo from MPBL Facebook)

The win was a fitting welcome for new head coach Goldwyn Monteverde.

Nearly overshadowed by Batangas City’s triumph was Nueva Ecija-MiGuard’s 78-76 squeaker of Marikina.

The Christian Singson-owned franchise rode on the big games of Marlon Monte and Jerwin Gaco, but it was the putback of JR Cawalong in the final three seconds, which sealed the win for the expansion squad.

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