Cebuana Lhuillier turned its game around in the second half in handing outright semifinalist Big Chill a 79-66 defeat in Game 1 of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Gems recovered from an eight-of-23 from the field in the first half thanks to solid fastbreak opportunities and defensive stops in the second half to take first blood of the series.
Cebuana Lhuillier, which gained a semifinal berth via the quarterfinals, will now go for the sweep and a return to the Foundation Cup finals on Tuesday against the second-ranked Big Chill.
“We treated this game as if we are coming off a loss,” said Cebuana Lhuillier coach Beaujing Acot.
Chris Exciminiano led the Gems’ balanced scoring attack with 16 points while James Mangahas and Pari Llagas adding 10 each.
The Gems had 20 fastbreak points, some of which coming from nine of their 12 steals in the second half.
Big Chill’s Alex Mallari was ejected for his second technical foul for continuous complaining and that’s when Cebuana Lhuillier’s charge began.
From a 46-46 deadlock in the third quarter, Kevin Alas broke the tie with five straight points and the Gems never trailed from there. A steal and lay-up by Lester Alvarez gave Cebuana Lhuillier its largest lead, 64-53, in the fourth period.