PASIG CITY – Hapee claimed the last championship berth and ousted top seed Cebuana Lhuillier from the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, 73-66, last Monday (June 15) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The Fresh Fighters ended the best-of-three series, 2-1, and will now meet early qualifier CaféFrance in another best-of-three starting on Thursday (June 18) at the same venue.
Well in control of the game since late in the first period, Hapee suddenly allowed the Gems to begin the fourth period with a 12-4 run capped by two free throws by John Lopez off an Ola Adeogun foul with 5:17 to play and give Cebuana the lead for the first time since the first period, 61-59. However, the celebration was short lived as Jessmar Villahermosa hit a triple and Adeogun scored back to back baskets to restore the upper hand to the Fresh Fighters, 66-61.
Lopez scored to threaten, 63-66, but the Gems failed to capitalize on an ensuing defensive stop by committing a 24-second shot clock violation. Adeogun then delivered the dagger three-point play, 69-63, and Nico Elorde and Chris Newsome preserved the win with free throws in the final minute.
The Gems actually started strong and held the lead until the Fresh Fighters scored the last nine points of the opening period for a 19-14 tally. Hapee enjoyed its biggest lead, 31-20, but the Gems staged a rally to close in by halftime, 26-33.
Adeogun powered the Fresh Fighters with 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Art de la Cruz was next with 14 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals.
“The players’ audacity carried them this far,” said Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. “I am expecting a good series with CaféFrance because they are a disciplined and hungry team.”
After burning Hapee for 40 points in their 76-73 Game Two victory, Allan Mangahas struggled to find the hoop, entering the scoring column late in the second period thanks to a goaltending violation. The Hapee defense limited him to only 11 markers this time.
Adeogun, who was constantly battered by the Gems defense, said that he maintained a positive outlook throughout the game. “I just want to stay in the game and help the team win a championship,” said Adeogun.
Adding to the Gems’ problems was Moala Tautuaa who reinjured his ankle with 2:20 to go in the second canto but returned in the second half to score six quick points in the third for a total of 12 markers and five rebounds. Simon Enciso topped the Gems with 18 points and six assists.
Both Coach Magsanoc and Adeogun are both looking forward to the return of national players Baser Amer, Troy Rosario and Earl Scottie Thompson in time for Game One. The trio sat out the entire semifinal series with Cebuana while competing in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Meanwhile, the first-time finalists Bakers of Coach Edgar Macaraya will rely on guards Maverick Ahanmisi and Eliud Poligrates and forwards Samboy de Leon and Rodrigue Ebondo. The Bakers swept the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns in the semifinals, 78-65 and 92-78.
How They Scored:
HAPEE (73) – Adeogun 20, de la Cruz 14, Elorde 12, Newsome 8, Villahermosa 6, Long 6, Romero 4, Koga 3, Mendoza 0, Sorela 0.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (66) – Enciso 18, Tautuaa 12, A. Mangahas 11, Zamar 8, Lopez 8, Van Opstal 4, Sarangay 4, J. Mangahas 1, Corpuz 0, Acosta 0, Cabrera 0, Bautista 0.
Period Scores: 19-14, 33-26, 55-49, 73-66.