BASER Amer hit the big shots for Hapee following the ejection of Ola Adeogun and the Fresh Fighters dealt Cebuana Lhuillier its first loss, 71-70, in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Amer scored on a jumper with 20.1 seconds left to put the Fresh Fighters ahead, then Bobby Ray Parks stripped the ball from Cebuana Lhuillier’s Almond Vosotros in the ensuing play.
The Fresh Fighters pulled off their fifth win in eight outings to tie Cagayan Gerry’s at the third spot. The third and fourth place teams at the end of the eliminations get twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals.
Cebuana Lhuillier suffered its first loss in seven games, falling just short after overcoming a 19-point deficit, although the Gems are already assured of an automatic semifinal spot in the postseason.
“It was a question of the will to survive. It’s all about pride for them. Sa amin, it’s a battle for survival,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
Adeogun was thrown out of the game after incurring his second technical foul, with 5:26 left to play and the game tied at 60.
But Amer and Art de la Cruz came up huge late in the game, combining for eight points in the fourth for Fresh Fighters.
“We needed a rim protector. Unfortunately, he got caught up and nakalimutan niya siguro na may technical foul na siya. Eventually, Art stepped up and Baser hit the big shots. It boiled down to one final stop,” said Magsanoc.
Amer had a team-high 18 points for the Fresh Fighters, who also got 15 from Troy Rosario. Parks scored 12 while De la Cruz had eight points.
Allan Mangahas had 21 points, 12 in the third as he spearheaded the attack for the Gems to turn a 42-30 deficit into a three-point gap, 55-52, entering the fourth.
Zamar hit a triple to put Cebuana Lhuillier up, 57-55, setting the stage for the seesaw battle.
Arnold Van Opstal debuted for the Gems but didn’t score in 16 minutes of action.
Hapee (71)—Amer 18, Rosario 15, Parks 12, Dela Cruz 8, Adeogun 6, Thompson 5, Newsome 5, Elorde 2, Long 0, Villahermosa 0, Romero 0, Koga 0.
Cebuana Lhuillier (70)—A. Mangahas 17, Tautuaa 15, Cabrera 9, Vosotros 9, Corpuz 7, Torres 5, Enciso 4, Zamar 4, Bautista 0, Van Opstal 0, Sarangay 0.
Quarterscores: 18-14; 42-30; 55-52; 71-70.