INFORMATICS built an early lead and never looked back on the way to its first win, a shock 94-87 victory over last conference’s runner-up Big Chill in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at the JCSCO gym in Quezon City.
The Icons took a 28-18 lead in the first period and kept their poise the rest of the way to nail their first victory after starting the conference with eight straight defeats.
“Very good ang feeling,” said Icons coach Jonathan Reyes, who said he felt the match was theirs as early as the first few minutes, but had to keep his players active just to be sure.
He yelled himself hoarse, but was all smiles in the end.
“(We knew) First quarter pa lang.”
Moncrief Rogado, a practice player with Petron and a former teammate of Junmar Fajardo at University of Cebu, had a game-high 26 points, while three other Icons scored in double figures.
Kojak Melegrito had 16 points, Mark Benitez had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Gerald Bautista scored 13.
Reyes also noted the performance of point guard Eric Acuna, a product of Informatics’ own basketball program.
“Nag-step up ’yung collegiate player namin,” said Reyes of Acuna, who was part of the Icons’ blazing start and wound up with six points and three steals. “’Yun ang best player namin sa collegiate league. Nag-step up siya. Never siya nakalaro ng maganda the whole season.”
Meanwhile, the second-straight defeat could prove crucial for Big Chill, a team built around top collegiate players.
The Superchargers remained in fourth place with a 5-4 win-loss card but hold just a half-game lead over Fruitas and JRU in a tight race for the playoffs.
NLEX sits atop the standings with a 9-1 mark followed by Blackwater at 6-2 and Cagayan at 5-3.
The top two after the eliminations advance outright to the semifinals, while the third and fourth placers will obtain a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Alex Nuyles had 13 points while Mac Montilla had 18 points before fouling out. Far Eastern University star Terrence Romeo struggled as he only had a point in only 19 minutes of play.
The Superchargers made just four of their 20 three-point attempts.
Informatics (94) – Rogado 26, Melegrito 16, Benitez 15, Bautista 13, Ablaza 9, Acuna 6, Rublico 3, Cabonce 2, Del Rosario 2, Montuano 2, Sanghera 0, Carlos 0, Hayes 0.
Big Chill (87) – Nuyles 23, Montilla 18, Bringas 9, Brondial 8, Montecastro 8, Cortes 7, Collado 7, Lozada 3, Canlas 2, Romeo 1, Villahermosa 1, Semira 0, Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 28-18; 54-37; 73-58; 94-87.