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Pampanga, San Juan take series openers

MANILA, Philippines — Top-seeded Pampanga drubbed Caloocan, 74-63, while San Juan stunned reigning champion Nueva Ecija, 86-82, in Game 1 of the MPBL North Division semifinals late Friday night at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Justine Baltazar hauled down a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds laced by three assists and three steals as the Giant Lanterns zeroed in on the North finals with a 1-0 lead in the short best-of-three Final Four series.

Nikko Panganiban (17), Zach Huang (13) and Michael Calisaan (10) delivered for the third-ranked San Juan.

Chris Bitoon (14) and Byron Villarias, who drained the clutch trey to give the No. 2 Nueva Ecija an 83-82 lead in the final minute, led the Rice Vanguards.