SAN JUAN City – Keep calm, the cavalry has arrived. With their future in the balance, the Hapee Fresh Fighters recalled six San Beda College stalwarts to active duty just in time to get past the CaféFrance Bakers in overtime, 75-72, at the resumption of hostilities in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the San Juan Arena Monday (May 4).
All six were part of the squad that went 14-1 in annexing the 2014-2015 Aspirants Cup. There impact was immediately felt with Ola Adeogun tipping in a Troy Rosario miss at the end of regulation and send the game into an extra five minutes, 63-63.
The game remained tight with Samboy de Leon scoring on a three-point play off Rosario that gave the Bakers their last lead, 72-71, and 55 ticks to play. Chris Newsome then restored the lead to Hapee for good via a baseline drive at the 30-second mark, 73-72.
The Bakers had a lot of time to pull ahead but Maverick Ahanmisi and Alvin Abundo missed their attempts with Ray Parks hauling the crucial defensive rebound plus a foul. Parks was quickly fouled and then sank both free throws to pad the Fresh Fighters’ lead and it proved to be enough with Ahanmisi missing a triple in the game’s final play thus ending the Bakers’ five-game winning streak.
“It was an answered prayer plus the players’ all-out heart and effort despite our minimal practices together,” said Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. “A loss could have been fatal to our chances of making the playoffs.”
The Bakers looked all set to wrap up the game with an 11-0 run capped by back-to-back Ahanmisi triples that erected a 61-53 cushion with 3:09 left in the fourth period. Unfazed, Hapee clawed thanks to timely baskets by Adeogun, Art de la Cruz and Nico Elorde and two free throws by Parks off Sedurifa with 27 seconds remaining, 61-63.
Leading by as high as nine in the first half, 35-26, the Bakers suddenly could not connect on a field goal in the third canto. Still, they managed to hold on, 42-40, despite late back-to-back baskets by de la Cruz.
De la Cruz topped Hapee with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Parks followed with 17 points and five rebounds to lift the Fresh Fighters to an even 3-3 win-loss card and Fifth Place in the 10-team table.
Ahanmisi hit three triples for a total of 16 points on top of seven rebounds and six assists. Sedurifa was next with 12 points followed by Abundo with 11 as CaféFrance stayed at Second Place at 5-2.
In the second game, the KeraMix Mixers gave the Bakers an assist of sorts by thumping the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 89-84. Both the Mixers and Rising Suns ended up tied for Third and Fourth Place at 4-3.
Keith Agovida delivered the telling blows in the fourth period, scoring 10 of his 14 markers including go-ahead field goal from a Jeff Alvin Viernes assist with 53 seconds on the clock, 85-83. In the ensuing sequence, Don Trollano was fouled but could only make one charity that was to be Cagayan Valley’s final say, 84-85.
Viernes and Jiovani Jalalon proceeded to ice the game from the free throw stripe after the Rising Suns had no recourse but to give up fouls after their missed field goal attempts. Cagayan Valley then saw its three-game winning run go up in smoke.
The Mixers welcomed back Jalalon after his stint with the national team and he quickly went to work by scoring 10 points in the second period to overturn their 12-19 deficit after the first period and deadlock the count at 40-40 at the halftime break. Jalalon was not finished as he later stole the ball from Eric Salamat for an unmolested layup and the game’s final deadlock at 83-83.
“We really needed this win after our forgettable game last time where we lost to AMA,” said Coach Carlos Garcia. “I took full responsibility for the AMA loss so I challenged the players to show that we belong to the playoffs by beating the elite teams like Cagayan Valley.”
Ford Ruaya played his best game of the tournament with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jalalon also finished with 18 points on top of five rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Trollano paced the Rising Suns with 22 points. Michael Mabulac and Abel Galliguez followed with 13 each and Andrian Celada with 12 but ejection of Mabulac on two technical fouls and subsequent disqualification of Celada on six personal fouls just before the four-minute mark of the fourth clearly affected their side’s chances.
How They Scored:
HAPEE (75) – de la Cruz 18, Parks 17, Thompson 11, Adeogun 10, Rosario 6, Koga 5, Elorde 4, Newsome 4, Villahermosa 0, Long 0, Romero 0.
CAFÉFRANCE (72) – Ahanmisi 16, Sedurifa 12, Abundo 11, Ebondo 9, de Leon 8, Cortes 7, Miranda 5, Jeruta 2, Batino 2, Noble 0, Andrada 0.
Period Scores: 14-13, 28-35, 40-42, 63-63 (reg.), 75-72 (OT).
KERAMIX (89) – Ruaya 18, Jalalon 18, Agovida 14, Viernes 13, Parala 9, Gabawan 7, Robles 6, Ibay 2, Bartolo 2, DiGregorio 0, Jamito 0.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (84) – Trollano 22, Mabulac 13, Galliguez 13, Celada 12, Rogado 8, Salamat 7, Melano 5, Magat 2, Santos 2, Dilay 0, Austria 0, Tayongtong 0, Flores 0.
Period Scores: 12-19, 40-40, 60-66, 89-84.