HAPEE can now put the smile back on its face as it dispatched Jumbo Plastic, 75-64, on Thursday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig to advance to the semifinals of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
After surrendering an 87-83 decision last Monday, the twice-to-beat Fresh Fighters regained their fiery form in a do-or-die match as they finally overcame a Giants side that has had their number this conference.
“Probably nangyari ‘yun (loss last Monday) dahil we needed to be better, we needed to be tougher, and we needed to be humble,” Fresh Fighters coach Ronnie Magsanoc said.
The reigning Aspirants Cup champions thus revived their bid for back-to-back titles in the developmental league.
San Beda standouts Art dela Cruz and Baser Amer led a balanced effort for the Fresh Fighters, who set up a Final Four duel against rival Cebuana Lhuillier in a best-of-three series that starts on Monday.
Dela Cruz scattered 18 points, missing a double-double by one rebound, and chipped in four steals and one assist as the versatile forward led four players in double-figure scoring for the Fresh Fighters, who were in the driver’s seat from start to finish.
Amer added 17 points, three boards, and facilitated the offense with three assists—one that fed Scottie Thompson for a layup that capped a 7-0 run and made it 63-50 halfway through the payoff period.
The Giants threatened before that salvo as they nudged to within 56-50 after a stab by Marcy Arellano, one of three players in twin digits for his team.
HAPEE 75 – Dela Cruz 18, Amer 17, Rosario 13, Newsome 12, Adeogun 6, Thompson 4, Elorde 2, Sorela 0, Koga 0
JUMBO 64 – Sanga 13, Arellano 10, Jalalon 10, Khobuntin 6, Mandani 6, Villamore 5, Eguilos 4, Mirza 4, Paniamogan 2, Perez 2, Avillanoza 2, Tiongson 0
Quarterscores: 22-15, 35-30, 52-44, 75-64