QUEZON CITY – Top seed Caida Tiles clinched the first championship berth in the 2015 Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) Founders Cup by trouncing a very tough Euro-Med Laboratories, 75-69, sweeping their best of three series Saturday (December 12) at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Gym. In the first game, Jumbo Plastic forced a winner take all Game Three in the other semifinal series by halting Santa Lucia Realty, 72-65.
The Malolos City-based Tilemasters survived a late fight back from Euro-Med after erecting their biggest lead on an Alex Almario triple at the 7:13 mark of the fourth period, 65-46. From there, Euro-Med countered with a 20-7 run behind Pari Llagas and Alvin Abundo and capped by Jopher Custodio to threaten with 16 seconds to play, 69-72.
While the Linoleum Giants could only muster a single field goal by Dexter Maiquez during Euro-Med’s rally, free throw shooting saved the day as Jiovani Jalalon and Jackson Corpuz hit from the line in the final 16 seconds to preserve the win. Time was not on the side of Euro-Med, who made a PCBL-low three points in the second to allow Jumbo Plastic to breakaway for good by halftime, 40-25.
Instead of panicking, Coach Michael Buendia and his staff settled down the Tilemasters and worked on building their confidence as they big lead slowly evaporated. “I’m relieved that the team is overcoming the pressure of being the number one seed,” said Coach Buendia.
Ford Ruaya went scoreless in the fourth but did enough damage in the first three periods to lead Caida with 14 points and seven rebounds. Jalalon backed him up with 12 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Samboy de Leon paced Euro-Med with 11 of his 12 markers in the second half. Llagas and Aaron Jeruto followed with 11 points each.
“Whoever we face in the finals will definitely be a tougher opponent,” added Coach Buendia. “We are hoping that the people of Malolos support us when we play there.”
Caida’s opponent will be determined on Monday (December 14) when Jumbo Plastic and Santa Lucia hold their rubber match at JCSGO starting at 5:00 PM. Jumbo Plastic’s Alvin Padilla struck heavily in the fourth period as he delivered two clutch triples that effectively set the stage for Game Three.
Padilla’s second triple gave Jumbo Plastic an unassailable 67-57 advantage with 54 ticks remaining. Earlier, James Martinez scattered eight points to keep the Realtors at bay and then added three more free throws in the final minute to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Jumbo Plastic grabbed the lead in the first period and never looked back. “After losing Game One, we worked on both our team and individual defense and it worked as we limited Santa Lucia to only six points in the second,” said Coach Stevenson Tiu.
Santa Lucia took Game One, 72-68, last December 10. Coach Tiu believes the momentum has now shifted to their side and vowed to go for it all in Game Three.
Martinez recovered from his forgettable two-point effort in Game One by unloading 21 points, 11 in the final canto on top of six rebounds. Padilla was next with 12 points.
Jerald Bautista paced the Realtors with 19 points. Jun Gabriel supported him with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Monday’s winner will have very little time to prepare as Caida Tiles will host both Game One of the championship series in Malolos City immediately on December 16 (Wednesday) and Game Two on December 20 (December 20). If needed, Game Three will still be in Malolos on December 22 (Tuesday).
How They Scored:
JUMBO PLASTIC (72) – Martinez 21, Padilla 12, Eguilos 11, Viernes 8, J. Lopez 8, Mandani 4, M. Lopez 4, Acosta 2, Taganas 2, Arellano 0.
SANTA LUCIA (65) – Bautista 19, Gabriel 16, Escosio 8, Salado 7, Montilla 6, Ilagan 5, Wetherell 2, Onwubere 1, Celiz 1, Camasura 0, Vidal 0, Sarangay 0.
Period Scores: 17-12, 30-18, 49-41, 72-65.
CAIDA TILES (75) – Ruaya 14, Jalalon 12, Rios 10, Maiquez 8, Corpuz 7, Terso 7, Hayes 6, Lozada 4, Robles 4, Almario 3, Gabawan 0.
EURO-MED (69) – de Leon 12, Jeruta 11, Llagas 11, Abundo 9, Custodio 9, Cortes 7, Cruz 5, Villahermosa 2, Santos 2, Galanza 1, Zamar 0.
Period Scores: 22-22, 40-25, 57-42, 75-69.