CEBUANA Lhuillier stunned shorthanded four-time defending champion NLEX, 71-64, on Tuesday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Gems bounced back from their sorry loss to Fruitas by taking advantage of the absence of centers Ian Sangalang and Greg Slaughter in the Road Warriors lineup to improve their record to 2-1 win-loss.
Gab Banal had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Raymond Aguilar and June Dizon added 12 points apiece for the Gems, who blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Shakers.
“We just stayed together,” said Cebuana Lhuillier coach Beaujing Acot. “I told the boys that if you want to have a high game, you have to have high risk. Kalimutan na natin ‘yung Fruitas, if we win against NLEX, we are back on track.”
NLEX dropped back-to-back games for the first time in the developmental league.
The defeat came a day after Sangalang was released unconditionally by NLEX management so last conference’s Best Player Awardee can join the EA Regen Med Group team of his longtime patron Dennis Pineda.
The Gems started the fourth with a 7-1 run that put them ahead, 57-49. The Road Warriors were able to cut the deficit to two points but Paul Zamar hit a crucial lay-up and two free throws to increase the lead to 67-59.
“We are not aggressive (against Fruitas) pero this time, hanggang dulo ‘yung ibinigay na intensity,” said Acot.
Acot also dedicated the victory to team owner Jean Henri Lhuillier, who will celebrate his birthday on March 24.
Eric Camson was the lone double-digit scorer for NLEX with 14 points.
Cebuana Lhuillier (71) – Banal 16, Aguilar 12, Dizon 12, Martinez 10, Zamar 8, Bautista 3, Buensuceso 3, Chiu 2, Padilla 2, Custodio 2, Lopez 1, Elinon 0, Bustos 0.
NLEX (64) – Camson 14, J. Pascual 8, Lanete 8, Ganuelas 7, Long 6, Garcia 5, R. Pascual 4, Alas 4, Villarias 3, Salva 3, Hermida 2, Amer 0.
Quarterscores: 15-17; 33-32; 50-48; 71-64.