MINDANAO finally tasted success in top-level amateur basketball as it turned back BDO-National University, 73-67, for its first victory in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Aguilas overcame an early double-digit deficit as the Zamboanga-based squad pounced on the limited presence of Alfred Aroga and the ejection of Matt Salem to barge into the win column after four losses in their first conference in the developmental league.
“Masarap (itong panalong ito), kasi napakahirap manalo sa level ng laro dito,” a relieved Aguilas coach Niño Rejhi Natividad said. “Pero may tiwala at loyalty ang mga player ko sa akin.”
College of St. Benilde product Dexter Garcia fired 13 points, while former pro Robby Celiz added nine markers to lead the Aguilas, who handed the Bulldogs their third loss in four outings.
The Bulldogs built an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but lost in the second canto as Aroga was hobbled by foul trouble after picking up a third foul before halftime.
The Cameroonian slotman started for NU, but wound up scoreless in 14 minutes.
The Bulldog’s frontline woes were compounded after Salem was ejected halfway through the third after picking up a second technical foul.
From there, the Aguilas maintained the upper hand and kept the Bulldogs at bay.
MINDANAO 73 – Garcia 13, Celiz 9, Ignacio 8, Nalos 7, Ongteco 7, Acibar 6, Jumao-as 5, Sarangay 5, Argamino 4, Julkipli 4, Villanueva 4, De Guzman 1, Ferrer 0, Rivera 0
BDO-NU 67 – Alejandro 12, Salim 11, Javelona 9, Rono 8, Salem 7, Perez 5, Diputado 4, Tansingco 4, Yu 4, Labing-isa 3, Aroga 0
Quarterscores: 13-22, 34-33, 59-48, 73-67