PASIG CITY – The Hapee Fresh Fighters claimed the fourth and final semifinal berth of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup following a 75-64 crushing of the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants Thursday (June 4) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The Fresh Fighters will now meet the top seed Cebuana Lhuillier Gems in a best-of-three series starting on June 8 (Monday) at the same venue.
“A month and a half ago we thought that we would be eliminated from the tournament,” said Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. “Now that we are in the semifinals, we would like to thank all those that helped the team from management to San Beda College for allowing their players to suit up again for Hapee.”
Baser Amer scored a basket followed by two free throws by Art de la Cruz with 1:13 to play, 75-64, that effectively silenced the Giants’ final rally of eight straight points that put them within seven entering the two-minute warning, 64-71. The Fresh Fighters led all the way from the opening tip, slowly building their advantage to as high as 15 markers in the final period on a three-point play by de la Cruz, 68-53.
Learning the lessons from their 83-87 Game One debacle, Hapee started strong and energetic and never allowed the Giants to establish their form with Ola Adeogun firing six points and Amer and Chris Newsome chipping in four each to give Hapee the first period, 22-15. “We were humbled in Game One,” admitted Coach Magsanoc as they saw the end of their four-game winning run since the return of the San Beda players.
De la Cruz paced the Fresh Fighters with 18 points, eight made in the third period, to go with nine rebounds and four steals. Amer was next with 17 points and three assists.
Paul Sanga was the top gun for the Giants with 13 points, seven made in the final period. Marcelino Arellano and Jiovani Jalalon were next with 10 markers each.
“Hapee may have the championship experience but we are hungrier and our team is out for redemption,” said Gems coach David “Boycie” Zamar after scouting the game with his staff. “Let’s forget the stats and it will boil down to the players’ guts.”
Both teams though will play their semifinal series shorthanded. Hapee’s Amer, Troy Rosario and Earl Scottie Thompson and Cebuana’s Norbert Torres and Almond Vosotros will join the national team to the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore from June 6 to 15.
The other semifinal series pits the second seed CaféFrance Bakers against the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns also starting on June 8. The third seed Rising Suns gained the semifinals after they outlasted the sixth seed AMA University Titans in overtime, 107-103, last Monday (June 1).
How They Scored:
HAPEE (75) – de la Cruz 18, Amer 17, Rosario 13, Newsome 12, Adeogun 6, Thompson 4, Elorde 3, Long 2, Sorela 0, Koga 0.
JUMBO PLASTIC (64) – Sanga 13, Arellano 10, Jalalon 10, Mandani 6, Khobuntin 6, Villamor 5, Eguilos 4, Mirza 4, Paniamogan 2, Avillanoza 2, Perez 2, Tiongson 0.
Period Scores: 22-15, 35-30, 52-44, 75-64.