CAGAYAN Valley overcame a huge fightback by Tanduay Light, 81-74, to clinch an outright semifinal berth on Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the JCSGO gym.
The Rising Suns kept their record unblemished, capturing their ninth win in as many tries to join idle Hapee on top of the team standings.
Cagayan Valley and Hapee face off a much-anticipated match on January 22.
The Rising Suns, however, had to sweat the final quarter out as they saw a 32-point lead cut by the Rhum Masters to six, 80-74, with 50.8 seconds left. The time, however, was just not enough for Tanduay Light to complete the comeback.
Cagayan Valley led, 49-17, in the second quarter but was outscored in the fourth, 21-6.
“Walang killer instinct,” said a relieved Cagayan Valley assistant coach Nonoy Bonleon, one of the coaches who were tasked to handle the team while head coach Alvin Pua served the final game of his three-match suspension.
“Tawag nga nang tawag si coach Alvin. Tinatanong kung ilan ang lamang. Sabi niya kasi, dapat back to zero,” said Bonleon.
Andrian Celada had a team-high 16 points, while Don Trollano and Moala Tautuaa each had 12 points for Cagayan Valley.
Tanduay Light dropped to 4-6 for sixth place, with Breadstory (3-5) and AMA (3-6) still in contention for the last spot in the quarterfinals.
Cagayan Valley (81)—Celada 16, Trollano 12, Tautuaa 12, Melano 10, Mabulac 8, Tayongtong 8, Salamat 6, Austria 5, Flores 4, Dilay 0, Capacio 0, Galliguez 0.
Tanduay Light (74)—Mariano 13, Belencion 13, Tagarda 11, Jumao-as 10, Escueta 8, Foronda 8, Santos 5, Sumang 4, Rono 2, Mandani 0, Ignacio 0, De Vera 0, De Leon 0, Ilagan 0.
Quarterscores: 30-12; 54-27; 75-53; 81-74.