PASIG CITY – The Cebuana Lhuillier Gems banked on the 40-point effort of guard Allan Mangahas to stump the Hapee Fresh Fighters, 76-73, and keep their title hopes alive in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (June 11) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The top seed Gems thus leveled the best-of-three semifinal series at 1-1 with the deciding Game Three scheduled for Monday (June 15) at the same venue.
Mangahas’ 39th and 40th and points pushed the Gems ahead, 74-73, with 1:09 left on the clock. The Fresh Fighters then committed a crucial 24-second violation to return the ball to the Gems.
Simon Enciso, struggling on offense all game, redeemed himself by assisting Moala Tautuaa as he cut through the baseline for an easy field goal with 18 ticks remaining, 76-73. Hapee tried their best to catch up but Jessmar Villahermosa missed his triple with the ball going out of bounds in the Gems’ favor.
Hapee suddenly got another chance after the Gems mishandled the ball but Villahermosa missed anew to set the stage for the decider. Hapee opened the best-of-three series by taking Game One, 82-71, last June 8 (Monday).
Mangahas scored in double figures in all periods except in the second and grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. His 40 points matches the record set by Jerramy King of the AMA University Titans in their 103-107 overtime loss to the Rising Suns last June 1 in the quarterfinal round.
“Coach (David) Zamar challenged me to show that I am one of the leaders and veterans of the team,” said Mangahas. “His words made me decide to shoot and shoot and luckily they went in.”
Overall, Mangahas shot 17 out of 25 of his attempts including five out of eight from the three-point arc plus one out of two free throws. Tautuaa, who incurred an ankle sprain in Game One, came off the bench to add 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Ola Adeogun powered the Fresh Fighters with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Newsome was next with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Waiting in the wings for the series winner is first time qualifier CaféFrance Bakers. The Bakers swept the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 2-0.
Hapee is hoping for a back-to-back stint in the finals after bagging the last Aspirants Cup earlier this year, their debut tournament. Cebuana Lhuillier has not made the finals since losing to the NLEX Road Warriors in the very first Foundation Cup in 2011.
How They Scored:
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (76) – A. Mangahas 40, Tautuaa 10, Zamar 8, Lopez 7, Corpuz 4, Sarangay 3, Enciso 2, Acosta 2, Van Opstal 0, Cabrera 0, J. Mangahas 0.
HAPEE (73) – Adeogun 25, Newsome 15, Villahermosa 13, Mendoza 8, Elorde 5, Koga 3, Sorela 2, de la Cruz 2, Gamboa 0, Long 0, Romero 0.
Period Scores: 22-23, 41-38, 57-55, 76-73.