PASIG CITY – Abel Galliguez hit a triple with a second left on the clock to lift the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns over the Hapee Fresh Fighters, 80-77, in the marquee game from the 2014-2015 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Thursday (January 22) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The Rising Suns thus assured themselves of the top seeding after the elimination round with a 10-0 win-loss card with one more game to play while the Fresh Fighters tasted their first defeat to close their assignments at 10-1 with both teams earning outright slots in the semifinals.
Earlier, Troy Rosario tied the game for the last time at the 10-second mark via two free throws, 77-77. With no more timeouts to call, Coach Alvin Pua signaled from the bench to get the ball to Moala Tautuaa but Galliguez found himself an opening and tossed in the winner against the outstretched arms of Ray Parks.
Coach Ronnie Magsanoc sued for time to diagram a play, but Garvo Lanete missed his clear look at the basket to cap the pulsating and very physical contest. “It was God’s grace that the shot went in,” said a very elated Galliguez after the game.
Tautuaa drew inspiration from his parents Moala Sr. and the former Romanita del Valle who watched him live together for the first time in the tournament. The top rookie draft pick woke up in the second half scored 11 of his 15 third period points in a 20-7 opening run that gave the Rising Suns their first lead of the game thanks to a pair of charities from Alexander Austria, 50-48, and 4:54 to go.
Squandering their lead which grew as high as 16 points in the second period, 31-15, the Fresh Fighters recovered and retained the upper hand entering the final canto with timely hits by Nico Elorde, Ola Adeogun and Rosario, 61-58.
As Hapee enjoyed a 69-63 advantage, the Rising Suns went on a dizzying 14-0 blitzkrieg capped by an Austria triple followed by a technical free throw by Andrian Celada off a game delay by Coach Ronnie Magsanoc, 74-69. The Fresh Fighters continued to fight back with eight straight of their own, 77-77, and set the tone for the amazing endgame.
“My parents are in a tie as my two greatest fans,” said Tautuaa who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals in 32 minutes. Game hero Galliguez followed with 16 points off the bench.
Parks paced Hapee with 17 points but was limited to only two free throws in the fourth period. Rosario was next with 12 points, seven made in the fourth period, to go with seven rebounds.
In the earlier matches, the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems completed the first step of their quest for a higher seeding and twice-to-beat advantage by pulverizing the MP Hotel Warriors, 93-62. However, the Gems and Coach David “Boycie” Zamar could only watch helplessly as their quarterfinal opponent Jumbo Plastic Linoleum flustered the MJM M-Builders in the ensuing game, 88-80, to tie the Gems at 7-4 and claim the twice-to-beat advantage by virtue of their 63-61 win over the Gems last November 3.
“That’s the hard part about entrusting our fortune to others,” said Coach Zamar. “We will maintain our mindset that we will play two games with Jumbo and overcome their advantage.”
The Gems led all the way from the opening tip as Norbert Torres scattered 22 points on top of eight rebounds and six assists. Almond Vosotros supported Torres with 13 points and five assists as the Gems posted their third straight win, their longest winning streak of the tournament, while the Warriors ended their debut campaign by losing their ninth in a row for a 1-10 record and last place in the 12-team field.
The undermanned Warriors turned to Wowie Escosio and Jan Jamon for firepower as they chipped in 11 markers each, the only ones on their side in twin digits. Sadly, both went scoreless in the fourth as the Gems continued to pound away with the final margin representing their biggest lead of the day.
Facing a must-win situation in light of the Gems earlier victory, the Giants met stiff resistance from the Builders who played for the second straight game without tournament scoring leader Mac Belo. Battling through four deadlocks and a lead change, Jumbo Plastic took the lead for good after a three-point play by Chris Javier and a field goal from Jan Colina to close the first period, 19-14.
It was an all-Jumbo Plastic show hence as Philip Paniamogan opened the second with a triple, 22-14. Joseph Terso and Jansen Rios then padded the Giants lead and Paniamogan resumed his hot shooting in the second half, aptly opening action with a basket for their biggest lead, 46-30.
“This is a scary win because the pressure was on us,” admitted Coach Stevenson Tiu. “The team earned a lot of confidence and we will carry over this into the quarterfinals.”
The Giants and Gems will commence their quarterfinal series on January 29, with the Giants needing to win only once to advance to the best-of-three semifinals versus waiting Cagayan Valley. Still, Coach Tiu warns his players that he sees the Gems as much-improved, a far different team since their first meeting.
Paniamogan drained five triples for 20 points plus 11 rebounds. Juami Tiongson backed him up with 11 points.
Glenn Khobuntin was the high man for the Builders with 21 points. Gelo Alolino and Raymar Jose chipped in 10 points each as they ended their stint with a 3-8 record.
How They Scored:
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (93) – Torres 22, Vosotros 13, Bautista 12, A. Mangahas 10, Lopez 8, Ferrer 6, Guinto 6, Enciso 5, Villahermosa 5, Zamar 3, Acibar 2, Sarangay 1, Banal 0, J. Mangahas 0.
MP HOTEL (62) – Escosio 11, Jamon 11, Quiro 9, Allen 8, Celda 7, Palma 7, Collado 4, Yusop 3, Yaya 2, Hainga 0, Landicho 0.
Period Scores: 19-11, 44-30, 71-51, 93-62.
JUMBO PLASTIC (88) – Paniamogan 20, Tiongson 11, Terso 10, Colina 10, Eguilos 8, Rios 7, Villamor 6, Javier 5, Sabellina 4, Cruz 3, Maiquez 3, Magat 1, Rosales 0, Petilos 0.
MJM M-BUILDERS (80) – Khobuntin 21, Alolino 10, Jose 10, Tolomia 9, Alberto 8, Pogoy 5, Cruz 4, Inigo 4, Mendoza 3, Neypes 3, Ignacio 3, Perez 0, Javelona 0.
Period Scores: 19-14, 44-30, 66-57, 88-80.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (80) – Tautuaa 24, Galliguez 16, Trollano 11, Austria 9, Mabulac 8, Celada 6, Salamat 2, Flores 2, Santos 2, Olayon 0, Dilay 0, Capacio 0, Melano 0, Tayongtong 0.
HAPEE (77) – Parks 17, Rosario 12, Adeogun 10, Lanete 10, Newsome 9, Elorde 4, de la Cruz 4, Hayes 4, Thompson 3, Amer 2, Long 2.
Period Scores: 12-25, 30-41, 58-61, 80-77.