CIGNAL hardly missed big man Raymar Jose's absence, thanks in large part to Jason Perkins.
With Jose currently helping Gilas Pilipinas in its Southeast Asian Games campaign, the Hawkeyes turned to Perkins to man the paint against Centro Escolar University star Rod Ebondo in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals opener.
The former La Salle forward didn't disappoint.
Perkins made his presence felt, dropping 14 of his 16 markers in the first half as the Hawkeyes seized control on their way to the 78-56 victory that put Cignal a win away from a second straight D-League crown.
The 24-year-old Perkins, though, played down his role in filling the void left by Jose.
“That guy has the most beautiful face, you got to miss that pogi face," said Perkins in jest, referring to Jose.
Turning serious, Perkins deflected credit to playmaker Pamboy Raymundo, who orchestrated the fluid offense from start to finish.
"Our team did a good job of moving the ball, especially Pamboy because he's just a good leader, he's really smart. Even if he didn't get the points, he just did a good job of moving the ball," he said.
With Jose still unavailable for Game Two on Thursday, Perkins is expected to take another major role as the Aspirants' Cup champions look to complete a sweep of the D-League titles this season.