PASIG CITY – The Hapee Fresh Fighters recovered in time to avoid the upset ax and tame the AMA University Titans, 69-65, at the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (April 9) at the Ynares Sports Arena. In the first game, the LiverMarin Guardians finally earned their first win in franchise history by halting the MP Hotel Warriors, 82-68.
After AMA’s James Martinez’ triple tied the game for the last time, 58-58, Hapee responded with two free throws by Earl Scottie Thompson followed by a Troy Rosario triple that gave them a 63-58 cushion with 2:30 to go. Martinez continued to threaten with another basket, 60-63, and their defense went to work by forcing the Fresh Fighters into a 24-second violation.
AMA however bungled the golden chance as Chris Newsome swiped the ball and sailed in for the tomahawk dunk at the 1:34 mark, 65-60. Dexter Maiquez then drilled another triple, 63-65, but that proved to be the Titans’ final stand.
Arvie Bringas scored on an undergoal stab plus a foul from Jay-R Taganas but did not complete the bonus charity, 67-63. A crucial Hapee stop forced the Titans to send Kirk Long to the line but he missed both shots.
In the ensuing rebound scuffle, Bringas managed to bat the loose ball back to Long who drove strong for two points, 69-63, plus a foul. Long missed the extra free throw but that proved enough with still 37 ticks left.
“AMA made us look bad in the first half with their good defense,” explained Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. The Titans managed to comfortably take the first half, 37-25, behind the seven points each of Martinez, Maiquez and Jerramy King.
The third canto proved key for the Fresh Fighters as they opened the second half with a 17-4 blitz topped by a Rosario three-point play that gave them the lead for the very first time, 42-41. Hapee’s defense limited the Titans to a paltry three of 16 shooting clip while forcing seven turnovers.
Rosario powered Hapee with 18 points and nine rebounds. Newsome backed him up with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists as they improved to 2-1.
Martinez finished with 17 points for AMA while Maiquez had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Taganas. The Titans dropped to an even 2-2 record.
While Hapee and AMA fought bitterly up to the end, winless LiverMarin had a surprisingly easy time against MP Hotel. Jan Colina opened the scoring for the Warriors but the Guardians responded with 10 straight points to signal the start of the blowout, 10-2.
Starters Jovit de la Cruz, Choi Ignacio and Ryan Costelo caught MP Hotel flatfooted and the assault was continued by substitute Nico Bangga for an imposing 45-25 lead at halftime. Mike Calisaan then opened the third period with another basket for the Guardians’ biggest lead, 47-25.
Rey Nambatac, Rocky Acidre, Mark Cruz and Colina tried their best to rally the Warriors but the best they could do was trim their deficit to 11 points with 3:50 play on an Acidre triple, 61-72. Bradwyn Guinto bailed LiverMarin out of trouble with five straight points and Ignacio added another field goal for an unassailable 79-61 advantage and 1:52 on the balance.
“I’m happy we finally won after three losses,” said Coach Rodney Santos with a big sigh of relief. “The players are now adjusting to the level of play in the D-League and I did not give them any pressure, just follow our system and run if you can.”
De la Cruz paced the Guardians with 15 points on top of five rebounds. Ignacio followed with 14 points and five rebounds.
Nambatac had good numbers of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Acidre was next with 12 points, eight made in the third period after a scoreless first half.
How They Scored:
LIVERMARIN (82) – de la Cruz 15, Ignacio 14, Guinto 11, Costelo 10, Bangga 7, de Vera 6, Ortuoste 5, Santos 4, Calisaan 3, Fabian 2, Rios 2, Laude 2, Mag-isa 1, Balucanag 0.
MP HOTEL (68) – Nambatac 14, Acidre 12, Colina 11, Cruz 11, Custodio 8, Mirza 6, Quinto 2, Pacquiao 2, Escosio 0, Mendoza 0, Masaglang 0, de la Pena 0.
Period Scores: 22-12, 45-25, 62-48, 82-68.
HAPEE (69) – Rosario 18, Newsome 12, Thompson 11, Long 9, Bringas 8, Elorde 4, Romero 4, Mendoza 3, Gamboa 0, Villahermosa 0, Lopez 0, Hayes 0.
AMA (65) – Martinez 17, Maiquez 10, Tampus 9, King 9, Taganas 7, Terso 5, Sison 4, Arellano 2, Jordan 2, Quijano 0, Angeles 0, Roberto 0, Dizon 0.
Period Scores: 10-16, 25-37, 50-43, 69-66.