FRUITAS recovered from 22 points down, coming alive late in the second half to turn back Cebuana Lhuillier, 75-72, and take the early lead in the in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Shakers dug themselves out of the grave as they erupted with 24 points and limited the Gems to only five markers in the final period for their second win in as many games.
Coach Nash Racela was pleased with how his players fought back and make amends for the sluggish start.
“Twenty points down… we have to improve every single time,” said Racela. “What's important is you keep pushing them."
The Shakers trailed, 40-62, after a Paul Zamar trey at the 4:31 mark of the third before the Shakers
went on a 13-1 run as Carlo Lastimosa poured in eight points to trim their deficit to four, 64-68.
Fruitas sustained the momentum as it silenced the Gems with a 9-0 run capped by Anjo Caram's triple to snatch the lead, 73-71.
“I give the credit to the players, they didn't give up,” Racela said. “Yung players namin grabe yung character at may heart. Actually yung players, we’ve been only with them two to three weeks di pa gaano magkakakilala. Now I got to know that there is heart and character.”
“Our defense will give us the win. First half kasi we focused on the offense then in the second half we shifted to defense and we made stops. Up to the end game we made crucial stops,” he added.
Lastimosa led the Shakers with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Russel Escoto and Bryan Cruz chipped in 13 and 10, respectively.
"Carlo will always be Carlo. Whatever he gives on the floor it’s consistent. Numbers may vary but the effort nandoon," said Racela of his prized ward.
Lastimosa is looking to turn pro next season, and Racela hopes to help prepare the gunner for his future in the PBA.
"This conference we want to make him as more of a facilitator, a team player, because last conference he was more of an offensive player. Last game he had five assists ang target namin is to start his transformation, more on his decision making, lalo na he'll be going to the PBA soon," he said.
Meanwhile, Rex Leynes had 11 and Raymond Aguilar added 10 markers for Cebuana Lhuillier, which now has an even 1-1 card.
Fruitas 75 - Lastimosa 22, Escoto 13, Cruz 10, Pogoy 7, Tolomia 6, Mendoza 6, Colina 5, Caram 3, Antonio 3, Banal 0, PInto 0, Caperal 0.
Cebuana Lhuillier 72 - Leynes 11, Aguilar 10,, Martinez 9, Padilla 7, Zamar 7, Banal 6, Bautista 6, Dizon 5, Buensuceso 4, Custodio 3, Bustos 3, Chiu 1, Lopez 0.
Quarterscores: 9-23; 34-51; 51-67; 75-72.