FRANCIS Allera provided the spark in a fourth quarter rally as Hog’s Breath Café pulled off an 82-79 come-from-behind victory over Cagayan Valley on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan to clinch a berth in the semifinals of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
Allera scored eight of his 10 points in the final canto, helping lift the Razorbacks to the quarterfinal victory after overcoming an 18-point deficit in the first half.
Jansen Rios delivered the go-ahead layup for the Razorbacks with 24.7 seconds left. Mark Cruz and Adrian Celada missed their shots in the next possessions before Alexander Austria hit two free throws with 12.6 seconds remaining.
John Pinto could not connect on a potential game-tying triple for the Rising Suns.
Fourth seed Hog’s Breath, which came into the game with a twice-to-beat incentive in the series, moved to the semifinals after outscoring Cagayan Valley, 55-39, in the second half.
Hog’s Breath will play NLEX in a best-of-three affair starting on Tuesday. The Razorbacks won over the Road Warriors in their lone elimination round game.
“The players played their hearts out in the second half,” said Hog’s Breath coach Caloy Garcia. “They adjusted to Cagayan’s game. Nakita ko ’yung advantage namin sa quickness. Ginawa ng Cagayan, they used their wings and didn’t use their bigs. It was a game of adjustments and we won the battle.”
Hog’s Breath came storming back from 22-40 deficit in the second quarter to overcome Cagayan Valley.
“We were out of sync in the first half. The players didn’t know what they are doing inside the game… I shouted at them na huwag nila isipin ’yung twice-to-beat because if we lose today, we will lose on Thursday,” said Garcia.
Cagayan Valley was ahead, 70-61, in the fourth quarter on back-to-back triples by Adrian Celada and Don Trollano but Allera led a 15-2 run to put Hog’s Breath ahead, 76-72.
Trailing 75-78, Cruz made four free throws to give Cagayan Valley a 79-78 edge but missed on a potential game-tying free throw after a foul committed by Austria on the inbound play.
Kevin Racal topscored for Hog’s Breath with 15 points and collared 10 rebounds. Rios added 12 markers while Austria chipped in 10 points.
Adrian Celada had 21 points for the Rising Suns.
Hog’s Breath Café (82) – Racal 15, Rios 12, Austria 10, Allera 10, Gabawan 9, Paniamogan 9, Ruaya 5, Sanga 5, Macasaet 3, Terso 3, Belorio 1, Publico 0.
Cagayan Valley (79) – Celada 21, Ighalo 11, Trollano 9, Cruz 9, Juico 7, Pinto 6, Melano 6, Bringas 6, Galliguez 4, Mabulac 0, Collado 0, Foronda 0.
Quarterscores: 11-14; 27-40; 58-63; 82-79.