EXPERIENCE was the difference maker as BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare trounced Centro Escolar University, 86-70, on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig to move closer to the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals.
Mohammed Pare was quick to assert his presence down low, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the first half. The Malian center also had seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block to lead the Saints.
Joshua Fontanilla had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds, backcourt partner Junjie Hallare added 11 points, three boards, two assists and two steals, and Jhaps Bautista scored 10 as the Saints took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three semifinals series.
"Sa start pa lang mas aggressive kami," said coach Stevenson Tiu. "Ine-expect ko mas aggressive sila pero first quarter pa lang, kita ko na controlled namin yung game."
The Saints used an 11-0 blast to turn a 40-37 lead to a 14-point advantage, 51-37, with 9:12 left in the third frame.
The young Scorpions sliced the lead down to five, 55-50, midway through the third.
BRT Sumisip-St. Clare, however, was just too strong, with Leo Gabo and Bautista imposing their will in the payoff period to once again erect an 18-point edge, 82-64, with 3:04 left to play.
It was a sweet victory for the Saints which, as Tiu related, are hell-bent on avenging their semifinals defeat to the Scorpions in the Aspirants' Cup.
"Gusto nila makabawi sa CEU dahil tinalo sila sa semis. That's the challenge para sa kanila, lalo na sa St. Clare boys," he said.
Game Two is set on Monday at Paco Arena.
Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf fired 12 points, 15 rebounds, six steals, four assists, and three blocks for CEU.
BRT Sumisip-St. Clare 86 - Pare 19, Fontanilla 14, Hallare 11, Bautista 10, Collado 9, Dumapig 8, Gabo 7, Rubio 5, Manacho 3, Penaredondo 0, Batino 0.
CEU 70 - Diouf 12, Santos 11, Guinitaran 8, Diaz 8, Tuadles 8, Sunga 7, Escalona 6, Bernabe 5, Tagal 5, De Ocampo 0, Murillo 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarterscores: 21-23; 46-37; 65-55; 86-70.