PASIG CITY – It will be the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants and AMA University Titans that will pocket the last two quarterfinal berths of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the close of the elimination round Thursday (May 28) at the Ynares Sports Arena. This after the Giants took the easy way by frustrating the MP Hotel Warriors, 78-72, while the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters gave the idle Titans an assist via their 70-69 nipping of the KeraMix Mixers.
Jumbo Plastic finished in solo Fifth Place with a 5-4 win-loss card. That put the pressure on the Mixers come the second game – a win would mean safe passage while a loss would result in a three-way tie for final slot.
The Mixers’ worst fears happened as Roi Sumang connected on a 15-foot jumper with seven seconds remaining to give Tanduay Light the lead for good, 70-69. The Rhum Masters’ defense then held form in the final play as Mike Parala missed and Jamil Gabawan failed to tip in the offensive rebound as the buzzer sounded.
After squandering their 37-29 halftime lead, Tanduay Light rallied back and picked up valuable momentum from Jaypee Belencion’s buzzer-beating triple to trail by just five markers entering the final period, 53-58. Tanduay Light then opened the final canto with a 9-0 blitz capped by back-to-back baskets by Kris Rosales for a 62-58 Rhum Masters lead.
Needing just a simple win, Jeff Alvin Viernes almost became the hero as he sank two free throws followed by a triple that restored the upper hand to the Mixers for the last time entering the final two minutes, 69-67. Edwin Escueta could only make one of his two free throws to close in, 68-69, but Tanduay Light’s defense created stops that set the stage for Sumang’s game-winner.
Still, it was a hollow victory in the end for the team of Coach Lawrence Chongson who could have snatched the final quarterfinal seat had they blown out the Mixers by over 30 points. AMA had a final quotient of 1.188 compared to the 0.993 of Tanduay Light and 0.841 of KeraMix.
Sumang started sizzling with 12 of his 16 markers in the first period but definitely saved the best shot for last. Aljon Mariano and Kris Rosales also notched double figures with 10 points each.
Michael DiGregorio topped the Mixers with 17 points. Mike Parala was next with 15 while Viernes chipped in 14.
Cebuana Lhuillier 7-2
Cagayan Valley 6-3
Jumbo Plastic 5-4
Tanduay Light 4-5
MP Hotel 1-8
The Titans will make their playoff debut against the third seed Cagayan Valley Rising Suns starting Monday (June 1). The Rising Suns squeaked past AMA, 75-70, last March 19.
In the first game, Coach Stevenson Tiu cited his players’ overconfidence that nearly cost their game against the Warriors. “They took it easy and played low percentage basketball,” said Coach Tiu.
Despite leading at halftime, 42-38, the Giants allowed the Warriors to come back behind Khasim Mirza and Isan de la Pena, capping the rally with a triple at the third period buzzer by Bong Quinto that gave MP Hotel the lead for the first time since the opening period, 56-55. Trailing 58-61 in the fourth period, the Giants then turned the game upside down via a 13-0 blast starring Paul Sanga and Philip Paniamogan from which the Warriors never recovered, 69-61.
The Warriors still kept on pushing but Jumbo Plastic had quick answers with Sanga and Glenn Khobuntin making the key baskets and crucial free throws to preserve the win. The Warriors dropped to 1-8 and finished at the bottom of the standings for the second time in as many tournaments.
Sanga submitted 13 of his team-high 15 points in the fourth period to go with seven rebounds. Paniamogan and Khobuntin provided support with 13 markers each.
“Paul really carried us in this game so I hope his good play continues into the quarterfinals,” said Coach Tiu. The Giants will play the fourth seed Hapee Fresh Fighters of which Coach Tiu opined that his players have to play at 200% in order to prove that their 64-61 win last March 23 was no fluke.
Mirza ended with 21 points, his best effort of the tournament. Rocky Acidre was next with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
How They Scored:
JUMBO PLASTIC (78) – Sanga 15, Paniamogan 13, Khobuntin 13, Villamor 11, Arellano 6, Mandani 5, Tiongson 4, Eguilos 4, Avillanoza 4, Perez 3, Purdy 0.
MP HOTEL (72) – Mirza 21, Acidre 15, de la Pena 10, Quinto 8, Nambatac 6, Custodio 5, Mendoza 4, Colina 2, Cruz 1, Calvo 0, Apreku 0, Luib 0.
Period Scores: 25-21, 42-38, 55-56, 78-72.
TANDUAY LIGHT (70) – Sumang 16, Rosales 10, Mariano 10, Belencion 7, Rono 7, Santos 6, Ilagan 5, Eriobu 4, Escueta 3, Tagarda 2, Lo 0.
KERAMIX (69) – DiGregorio 17, Parala 15, Viernes 14, Gabawan 8, Robles 7, Jalalon 4, Agovida 2, Ruaya 2, Ibay 0, Gil 0, Saitanan 0.
Period Scores: 18-17, 37-29, 53-58, 70-69.