SAN JUAN City – The Cagayan Valley Rising Suns gave notice of their title intentions by steamrolling the Hapee Fresh Fighters, 104-89, in a marquee matchup of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday (April 20) at the San Juan Arena. Both teams disputed the recent Aspirants Cup with the Fresh Fighters coming out the victors.
The Rising Suns capitalized on the early ejection of Hapee center Troy Rosario with 4:24 to go in the opening period. Ray Parks drained a side triple simultaneous with Rosario hammering Abel Galliguez on the head as they anticipated the possible rebound.
Sans their defensive anchor, Hapee allowed Cagayan Valley to unload 40 points in the period alone compared to their league-best defense of 64.0 entering the game. The Rising Suns led by as high as 27 points just before the halftime break, 53-26.
Parks and Chris Newsome managed to slice their deficit to as low as 12 markers in the fourth period, 77-89, but this was quickly doused by five straight points by Jason Melano, 94-77. Eric Salamat then added a triple followed by a Galliguez basket that gave the Rising Suns a 20-point advantage with 3:11 to play, 99-79, and Cagayan Valley coasted to their third win in five outings.
“It all started with our good practice the other day and our good start really demoralized Hapee,” said team consultant Turo Valenzona. “We set aside last conference and we really wanted to show that we could beat them.”
Salamat powered Cagayan Valley with 20 points. Galliguez made 10 of his 17 points in the first period on top of seven rebounds and four out of eight three-point shooting as Hapee lost back-to-back games for the first time since joining the D-League and see drop to 2-3.
Parks exploded for 33 points, 14 made in the third period, to go with 12 points and three assists as he tried to make up for Rosario’s absence. Newsome and Mark Romero followed with 17 and 14 points each but the rest of the team struggled.
Almost lost in the din of Cagayan Valley’s masterful performance was the fifth consecutive win for the league’s solo pacesetter Cebuana Lhuillier Gems who blasted the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants, 81-66. At the halfway point of the elimination round, the Gems are almost assured of a spot in the playoffs.
“I believe this is our time and we have the materials to win the championship,” said Coach David “Boycie” Zamar. “However, I still want to see more convincing and consistent victories from the players because they have the tendency to relax so we their coaches always have to remind them.”
Again, the Gems started slow and the Giants took the first period, 17-16. From the game’s final deadlock at 28-28, Simon Enciso came off the bench and hit five straight points to give the Gems the upper hand for good, 33-28.
The Gems then stretched their lead to its biggest, 60-43. Adding to Jumbo Plastic’s problems was the loss to injury of center MacLean Sabellina who hurt his knee after scoring on a dunk to begin fourth period action and the Gems still ahead, 63-54.
Glenn Khobuntin scored four points to threaten, 60-64, but this was immediately neutralized by back-to-back field goals from Jackson Corpuz and Allan Mangahas, 68-60, and 5:30 on the clock. Corpuz and Mangahas continued their late scoring spree to ward off all of Jumbo Plastic’s attempts to rally.
Mangahas and Tautuaa paced the Gems with 16 points each but the big story was Tautuaa who battled stomach flu to also grab 12 rebounds and issue five assists. Enciso chipped in 15 points, 11 coming in the crucial second period.
Tristan Perez was the lone Giant in twin digits with 15 points on top of nine rebounds. Khobuntin and new signee Paul Sanga followed with eight points each.
Coach Zamar also cited the efforts of Norbert Torres and Almond Vosotros who are also practicing with the national team for upcoming regional tournaments. “If it’s for the country, then they have my full backing,” said Coach Zamar who steered the Philippines to gold medals in the 2001 Southeast Asian Basketball Association championship in Manila and 21st Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
How They Scored:
CAGAYAN VALLEY (104) – Salamat 20, Galliguez 17, Melano 13, Magat 12, Rogado 10, Mabulac 10, Celada 7, Tayongtong 6, Santos 5, Trollano 2, Austria 2, Flores 0, Arquero 0.
HAPEE (89) – Parks 33, Newsome 17, Romero 14, Long 7, Mendoza 6, Thompson 4, Lopez 4, Gamboa 3, Elorde 1, Villahermosa 0, Gabo 0, Rosario 0, Bringas 0.
Period Scores: 40-19, 60-35, 84-69, 104-89.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (81) – A. Mangahas 16, Tautuaa 16, Enciso 15, Corpuz 8, Torres 7, Vosotros 7, Zamar 6, J. Mangahas 4, Acibar 2, Marata 0, Bautista 0, Lopez 0, Sarangay 0.
JUMBO PLASTIC (66) – Perez 15, Sanga 8, Khobuntin 8, Villamor 7, Sabellina 6, Avillanoza 6, Rosales 6, Tiongson 4, Eguilos 4, Paniamogan 2, Almario 0, Arellano 0.
Period Scores: 16-17, 44-34, 63-52, 81-66.