POWERHOUSE Hapee once again bucked a late scare, this time from MJM, before waltzing to a 79-66 victory to remain unbeaten in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Monday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig.
Coming off two hard-fought wins, the Fresh Fighters nearly squandered a huge double-digit lead anew, but regained their true form in time to notch a third straight victory and deal the Builders their third successive defeat.
“It was another good test for us,” said Fresh Fighters coach Ronnie Magsanoc, whose team is composed of collegiate stars, mostly from NCAA champion San Beda. “When things are not going right, they come to play together and play tough defense.”
Big men Ola Adeogun and Troy Rosario threw their weight around to lead the Fresh Fighters, who pounced on a Builders side that was without coach Nash Racela in the second half.
Racela was ejected near the end of second quarter after picking up two straight technical fouls for complaining over a non-foul call on Adeogun.
But even without Racela, the Builders managed to make a comeback from 20 points (50-30) down, cutting the deficit to just six points, 67-61, after an 11-0 salvo capped by a breakaway layup by Glenn Khobuntin.
The Fresh Fighters retaliated with their own run, scoring nine unanswered points punctuated by a Rosario two-handed slam off an Adeogun feed off the break and held on for good.
Adeogun tallied 18 points, eight rebounds, one block, and one assist in just 22 minutes, while Rosario added 14 points and seven caroms.
HAPEE 79 – Adeogun 18, Rosario 14, Amer 11, Parks 10, Thompson 9, Lanete 7, Newsome 5, Hayes 3, Dela Cruz 2, Van Opstal 0, Long 0
MJM 66 – Belo 16, Tolomia 10, Alolino 9, Khobuntin 8, Perez 7, Mendoza 7, Pogoy 6, Jose 2, Javelona 1, Cruz 0, Iñigo 0, Neypes 0
Quarterscores: 21-10, 39-24, 63-48, 79-66