Flying V squandered a nine-point edge but got the job done on the defensive end to eke out the tight 65-61 Game 1 win over Centro Escolar University Thursday and gain headstart in their 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
With the Thunder precariously holding on to a 63-61 advantage with 21.0 ticks left, Gab Banal got on Rod Ebondo’s way and drew a charging foul to halt the Scorpions’ rampage, giving his crew a huge sigh of relief as Jerick Cañada sealed the game with two freebies in the last 3.6 seconds.
“I think pagdating sa mga ganoong situations, you really have to assert yourself defensively. And I think this game really boiled down to the stops. We were able to make the crucial stops, lalo na yung kay Gab on Ebondo.”
Flying V has gotten one of its feet onto the championship series, with another victory on Tuesday propelling them to the Finals in only its maiden conference in the league.
Jeron Teng missed out on another triple-double, racking 17 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in the win.
Banal shot 3-of-6 from beyond the arc to wound up with 12 markers, five boards, and two steals, while Eric Salamat also had 12 points, three rebounds, and three dimes in the conquest.
Thomas Torres almost gave the win away to the Scorpions after he was whistled with a flagrant foul penalty one, but Orlan Wamar botched both of his freebies which could have tied the game in the final 21.0 seconds.
Rod Ebondo led the way for CEU with 20 points and 27 rebounds, two boards away from tying the PBA D-League record of 29 set by Jay-R Taganas in the 2015 Foundation Cup.
Art Aquino also chipped in 17 markers and four rebounds in the loss.
In the second game, Cignal HD ran away with the game early and halted Marinerong Pilipino’s expedition with an 86-67 thumping to take a 1-0 lead in the other best-of-three semifinals series.
Raymar Jose made his potential final game count for the Hawkeyes as he dropped 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
“Thank you ako kay Raymar. I had to play him for the whole of the third quarter and he did his job for us,” said coach Boyet Fernandez, as he braces for the departure of his bruising forward for the Gilas Pilipinas crew in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Jason Perkins also made his mark in the game, doing it all with his 13 markers, 18 boards, three assists, one steal, and one block.
FLYING V 65 – Teng 17, Banal 12, Salamat 12, Torres 6, Austria 5, Dionisio 4, Thiele 3, Cañada 2, Paredes 2, Tampus 2, Koga 0.
CEU 61 – Ebondo 20, Aquino 17, Wamar 9, Cruz 8, Jeruta 6, Casiño 1, Fuentes 0, Guinitaran 0, Intic 0.
Quarters: 14-13, 31-32, 54-46, 65-61.
CIGNAL HD 86 – Jose 17, Perkins 13, Villarias 13, Sumalinog 12, Arboleda 6, Bringas 6, Cahilig 6, Raymundo 5, Batino 4, Sara 4, Apinan 0, Uyloan 0.
MARINERONG PILIPINO 67 – Javelona 11, Sargent 8, Subido 8, Moralde 7, Herndon 6, Lopez 6, Iñigo 5, Marata 5, Alabanza 3, Isip 3, Javillonar 3, Gabriel 2.
Quarters: 34-14, 48-29, 65-45, 86-67.