CEBUANA Lhuillier used a huge third quarter run to take the lead then held off a late rally by Boracay Rum to score a 68-66 victory at the start of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
Head coach Beaujing Acot was pleased to see his roster changes pay dividends early, with new recruits Alvin Padilla and Gerald Bautista leading the Gems’ balanced scoring attack with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We acquired Padilla and Bautista because we feel that our guards department is medyo short, maliit at kulang sa intensity sa depensa,” said Acot.
The Gems know the need to start strong after struggling to catch up with the leaders in the Aspirants Cup. They scrambled to score wins in their final two games in the eliminations for a 3-5 win-loss record and the last berth in the quarterfinals. The Gems lost to eventual second placer Cagayan Valley.
Now they hope to build on the opening-day win, with Fruitas and four-time defending champion NLEX next on their schedule.
“Malakas ang Fruitas and NLEX. We don’t want to start with 0-3. The first win is a realization na we all have to trust each other… and accept na we have to believe in the system and what we are doing,” said Acot.
Boracay Rum sizzled in the first period as it took a 26-16 lead. The Waves were still up 43-37 at the half but Cebuana Lhuillier went on an 18-10 run for a 55-53 lead entering the fourth.
Boracay Rum was still able to tie the game at 61 on a Paolo Taha fastbreak and Roider Cabrera had a chance to give the Waves the upperhand when he was fouled in the three-point area. But the Adamson shooter only made one free throw, leaving the Waves trailing by one point, 66-65.
After Jessie Bustos split his two free throws with 12.5 seconds to play in the fourth for Cebuana Lhuillier, Jaymo Eguilos missed two opportunities from point blank range.
Cebuana Lhuillier (68) - Padilla 12, Bautista 10, Martinez 7, Banal 7, Chiu 7, Bustos 7, Aguilar 5, Custodio 3, Buensuceso 3, Zamar 2, Lopez 2, Leynes 2, Sarangay 1, Dizon 0.
Boracay Rum (66) - Cabrera 13, Sabellina 12, Ilagan 10, Taha 9, Eguilos 8, Viernes 4, Arellano 2, Acibar 2, Siruma 2, Bandaying 2, Monteclaro 2, Tagarda 0, Rosopa 0.
Quarterscores: 16-26; 37-43; 55-53; 68-66.