QUEZON CITY – The Hapee Fresh Fighters and the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns carried on their winning ways into the New Year as both teams hacked out convincing triumphs over separate opponents at the resumption of the 2014-2015 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Monday (January 5) at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach (JCSGO) Gym. The Fresh Fighters overcame Racal Motors Alibaba, 70-60, while the Rising Suns topped the AMA University Titans, 89-78.
With the Titans threatening at the eight-minute mark, 65-68, guard Abel Galliguez 11 consecutive Cagayan Valley points spiked by three triples against a lone basket by Jay-R Taganas to stretch their advantage, 79-67. Don Trollano then chipped in a pair of free throws to move ahead further, 81-67, as the Titans suddenly lost steam with still 5:43 on the clock.
Galliguez, an alumnus of John Brown University in Arkansas, finished with a team-high 20 points. Trollano followed with 15 points.
“I felt my rhythm today so I took the shots in the fourth quarter,” said Galliguez. “Playing here for the last year and a half has taught me a lot towards improving my game.”
Bucking a slow start, the Rising Suns turned to league scoring leader Moala Tautuaa and Eric Salamat to unload eight unanswered points highlighted by a pair of Tautuaa slams to erect an 8-3 advantage. From there, the Rising Suns stretched their lead to its highest at 16 markers in the second period, 27-11.
While Cagayan Valley did a good job of maintaining their distance, the Titans slowly engineered a rally behind new recruit Marcy Arellano and old hands James Martinez and Joshua Cubillo. Suddenly, the Titans managed to come to their closest at three points on an Arellano triple with eight minutes left in the contest, 65-68, paving the way for Galliguez’ heroics.
The Rising Suns played without suspended head coach Alvin Pua, who served the second of his three-game ban for physically contacting the referees last December 15. “The assistant coaches are doing a good job while we wait for Coach’s return,” added Galliguez.
Arellano, a transferee from the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, and Martinez paced the Titans with 18 points each. Arellano enhanced his debut game with five rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Later in the day, the Fresh Fighters played sans their two centers Ola Adeogun and Arnold Van Opstal but still had enough firepower in their vast arsenal against the surprisingly tough Racal Motors quintet. With Coach Ronnie Magsanoc forced to alter his rotation, a move that Racal exploited as Jamil Ortuoste and Ford Ruaya led the way towards a 21-21 stalemate after the first period.
Hapee then settled down, with Earl Scottie Thompson coming off the bench to score all his seven points followed by a Marvin Hayes three-point play in the second canto to power their breakaway, 47-32. Starting center Troy Rosario then resumed his good play from the first period as his three-point play early in the final period gave Hapee their biggest lead of the game, 67-50.
“Ola is still in Nigeria while Arnold is in Germany so we had a hard time practicing during the holidays as we could only have five to 10 players at a time,” explained Coach Magsanoc. “We want the team to feel pressure so they will know how to react to pressure, we are not thinking of a tournament sweep as we are taking things one game at a time.”
Rosario powered his way for 20 points on top of eight rebounds. Garvo Lanete was next with nine points, six rebounds and four assists as a five other Fresh Fighters submitted six or more points to underscore their balanced attack.
Ortuoste paced Racal with a personal high of 22 points plus six rebounds. Ruaya also had his best game of the tournament with 10 points but went scoreless in the second half as Racal dropped to 2-7.
The Fresh Fighters stayed on top of the standings with a spotless 9-0 win-loss card while the Rising Suns are half-a-game behind at 8-0. Should they maintain their immaculate slate, a titanic showdown between the two undefeated sides awaits on January 22 at the Ynares Sports Arena starting at 4:00 PM, the penultimate day of the 66-game elimination round.
As Hapee and Cagayan Valley look to lock up outright semifinal berths, the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants fortified their chances of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals by stalling the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters in the nightcap, 68-59. The Giants improved to 6-3, good for Fourth Place, while the Rhum Masters remained in the quarterfinal circle at 4-5 but now lead the 3-6 AMA by a lone game.
The Rhum Masters entered the game on the crest of a three-game winning run but the Giants started strong behind the nine points of Philip Paniamogan to take the first period, 23-14. As Jumbo Plastic was slowly carving out the laugher, Tanduay Light had other plans as they patiently crept back with Aljon Mariano and Jaypee Belencion leading the way and AJ Mandani finally knotting the count at 49-49 with 8:15 left in the fourth period.
Jaymo Eguilos came to the Giants’ rescue as he clustered five straight points and Paniamogan, scoreless in the second and third cantos, broke his silence with a booming triple for a 57-49 advantage. Jumbo Plastic always had a ready counter to all of Tanduay Light’s repeated attempts to comeback, with Paniamogan hitting the insurance field goal to settle the final tally with still 39 ticks to play.
Playing his second game in a Jumbo Plastic uniform, Paniamogan sizzled for 14 points on four triples to go with four assists. Eguilos had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Mariano continued his brilliant play for Tanduay Light with19 points. However he lacked support from his teammates as Belencion was next with only eight points.
How They Scored:
CAGAYAN VALLEY (89) – Galliguez 20, Trollano 15, Melano 10, Tautuaa 10, Salamat 8, Flores 7, Tayongtong 7, Mabulac 4, Mag-isa 2, Dilay 2, Austria 2, Celada 2, Capacio 0.
AMA COMPUTER (78) – Martinez 18, Arellano 18, Eriobu 11, Cubillo 11, Taganas 10, Balucanag 8, Dizon 2, Santiago 0, Magpantay 0, Sabangan 0, Diswe 0, Olivarez 0, Rosales 0.
Period Scores: 23-10, 47-38, 66-59, 89-78.
HAPEE (70) – Rosario 20, Lanete 9, Amer 8, Thompson 7, Parks 6, de la Cruz 6, Newsome 6, Long 5, Hayes 3.
RACAL MOTORS (60) – Ortuoste 22, Ruaya 10, Jamito 8, Gil 7, Viernes 4, Canta 4, Ibay 3, Gabawan 2, Mercader 0, DiGregorio 0, Ambulodto 0, Saitanan 0, Publico 0.
Period Scores: 21-21, 44-33, 60-48, 70-60.
JUMBO PLASTIC (68) – Paniamogan 14, Eguilos 13, Cruz 11, Villamor 7, Terso 6, Maiquez 5, Javier 4, Rosales 2, Magat 2, Tiongson 2, Petilos 2, Rios 0.
TANDUAY LIGHT (59) – Mariano 19, Belencion 8, Sumang 7, Mandani 6, Santos 6, Ilagan 4, Rono 4, Tagarda 3, Foronda 2, Ignacio 0, Cenal 0.
Period Scores: 23-14, 37-27, 49-45, 68-59.