MARIKINA CITY – Pacesetters Hapee Fresh Fighters and Cagayan Valley Rising Suns maintained their unblemished records and one-two position atop the standings after completion of the final games for the year for the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Monday (December 22) at the Marikina Sports Center. The Fresh Fighters slammed the MP Hotel Warriors, 84-63, while the Rising Suns needed overtime to put away Racal Motors Alibaba, 95-89.
After a couple of lead changes, the Rising Suns had a chance to pull ahead again but Moala Tautuaa bungled his two free throws with 1:36 remaining and Racal Motors still leading, 83-82. Jeff Alvin Viernes was quickly fouled and split his free throws for breathing space, 84-82.
Sensing the upset, Racal Motors made a key defensive stop but this was negated as they mishandled the ball near the center circle, allowing Michael Mabulac to sprint down the floor for the equalizer with 22 ticks to play, 84-84. Viernes tried to win the game in regulation but his heave at the buzzer went nowhere.
In the overtime, Andrian Celada sank a crucial triple that gave the Rising Suns the lead for good with 2:36 remaining, 89-88. Racal Motors lapsed into poor shot selection and costly errors and the Rising Suns quickly took advantage as Don Trollano banged in two charities and Jairold Flores added an undergoal stab for a 93-88 tally and 34 ticks to play.
Trollano topped the Rising Suns with 16 points and eight rebounds. Eric Salamat made 12 of his 15 markers in the first period as Cagayan Valley raced to a 27-11 lead.
Playing without Coach Alvin Pua who was fined PHP 50,000.00 and suspended for today and their next two games for physically contacting the referees in the last game, the Rising Suns with assistant coach Toto Dojillo at the helm built a 32-11 lead early in the second period and looked to turn the game into runaway. Slowly but surely, Racal Motors gamely climbed back into contention.
Viernes exploded for 17 points in the second period and Jamil Gabawan and Jam Jamito sustained the rally capped by a late three-point play by Michael DiGregorio to threaten entering the fourth period, 61-67. With momentum on their side, Racal finally grabbed the lead ironically on a field goal by Cagayan native Jayson Ibay at the 4:03 mark, 77-75.
Overall, Viernes tallied 34 points to go with 11 rebounds and four assists followed by Gabawan and Jamito with 11 points each. The Rising Suns improved to 7-0 while Racal Motors slipped to 2-6.
Hapee continued to lord it over the standings entering 2015 by claiming its eighth straight victim in the Warriors from General Santos City, half a game better than Cagayan Valley. The setback pushed the Warriors to sole possession of the bottom spot with a 1-7 win-loss card.
Surprisingly, the meeting between the two teams occupying opposite ends of the 12-team standings turned out to be very competitive as Hapee could not stage their patented scoring runs. Nursing a shaky 54-49 edge late in the third canto, Hapee finally broke loose as Troy Rosario, Kirk Long and Arnold Van Opstal contributed in a 12-0 run that continued into the fourth period to stretch their lead, 66-49.
There was no stopping the Hapee onslaught as Chris Newsome submitted his best performance of the tournament with nine points in the fourth to maintain their advantage. With the outcome a foregone conclusion, Ola Adeogun and role player Mychole Sorela put the finishing touches on the win.
Playing with a back injury, Ray Parks still topped Hapee with 18 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of work. Adeogun and Art de la Cruz came off the bench to contribute 12 points each with Adeogun hauling 14 rebounds for another double-double performance.
“I laud Ray for his sacrifices for the team in order to make everyone better,” said Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. “We struggled early because we were not defending well.”
Reden Celda was the high man for the Warriors with 14 points and seven assists. Jessie James Collado was next with 13.
In the first game, the MJM M-Builders snapped their three-game losing streak by whipping Wang’s Basketball, 79-64. The M-Builders moved out of the cellar and kept their flickering playoff hopes alive with an improved 2-6 record while Wang’s absorbed their fourth loss in a row and fell to 2-5.
All the M-Builders needed was a quick 27-8 opening salvo anchored on Glenn Khobuntin’s five points off the bench and they never looked back. Still, Wang’s managed to threaten a bit as Macky Acosta sliced the deficit to only nine points in the fourth period, 58-67, but this was quickly negated by a 10-0 blast capped by a Carl Bryan Cruz triple with 3:36 to play, 77-58.
Mike Tolomia paced MJM with 15 points and five assists. Cruz chipped in 10 points on top of six rebounds.
New recruit Jawhar Purdy, a transferee from the AMA University Titans, showed the way for Wang’s with 12 points. Jeff Morillo was next with 11 points.
The PBA D-League will take a break for the holidays and will resume hostilities with a three-game bill at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach (JCSGO) Gym in Cubao, Quezon City on January 5 (Monday). The playoffs are slated to begin on January 29.
How They Scored:
MJM M-BUILDERS (79) – Tolomia 15, Cruz 10, Jose 9, Perez 8, Khobuntin 8, Pogoy 6, Neypes 6, Belo 5, Matias 4, Mendoza 3, Inigo 3, Alolino 1, Javelona 1, Alberto 0.
WANG’S BASKETBALL (64) – Purdy 12, Morillo 11, Acosta 10, Rosopa 10, Ferrer 6, Montemayor 6, Montuano 4, Pontejos 2, Acidre 2, Marquez 1, Acuna 0, Lina 0.
Period Scores: 28-16, 49-41, 63-54, 79-64.
HAPEE (84) – Parks 18, Adeogun 12, de la Cruz 12, Newsome 10, Rosario 9, Van Opstal 7, Lanete 7, Long 5, Sorela 4, Amer 0, Koga 0, Thompson 0, Mendoza 0, Hayes 0.
MP HOTEL (63) – Celda 14, Collado 13, Jamon 11, Escosio 10, Pacquiao 7, Yaya 6, Calo 2, Allen 0, Quiro 0, Bulac 0, Blanco 0, Rogado 0, Landicho 0, Palma 0.
Period Scores: 23-16, 38-28, 59-49, 84-63.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (95) – Trollano 16, Salamat 15, Tautuaa 11, Galliguez 9, Dilay 8, Celada 7, Flores 7, Mabulac 7, Austria 6, Tayongtong 5, Mag-isa 2, Melano 0, Capacio 0.
RACAL MOTORS (89) – Viernes 34, Gabawan 11, Jamito 11, Ortuoste 9, Ibay 8, DiGregorio 5, Mercader 3, Gil 3, Reyes 2, Saitanan 2, Ruaya 1, Ambulodto 0, Canta 0.
Period Scores: 27-11, 50-32, 67-61, 84-84 (reg.), 95-89 (OT).