Nine-player Hapee side still too much for Racal Motors, clinches first automatic semifinal berth
Troy Rosario led the way for a Hapee squad missing Ola Dante Peralta

HAPEE clinched an outright semifinal berth when it defeated Racal Motors, 70-60, on Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirant Cup at the JCSGO gym in Quezon City.

The shorthanded Fresh Fighters won for the ninth time in as many tries, with Troy Rosario picking up the slack in the absence of key big men Ola Adeogun and Arnold Van Opstal.

The two Hapee big men are on extended break, with Adeogun still in his homeland of Nigeria and Van Opstal on vacation in Germany.

Rosario scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to the lead the nine-strong Hapee side.

“Hindi kami nakakabuo. Kauuwi lang ng iba nung January 2. Mabuti nakalusot,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc, downplaying suggestions the Fresh Fighters are taking it easy on the final stretch of the eliminatons.

“Importante pa rin ang makalusot kasi sayang ’yung naipuhunan. Instead of thinking na walang pressure, we try to find ways to improve,” Magsanoc said.

Jon Ortouste had a game-high 22 points for Racal Motors, which suffered its seventh loss in nine games.

The scores:

Hapee (70) — Rosario 20, Lanete 9, Amer 8, Thompson 7, Parks 6, Dela Cruz 6, Newsome 6, Long 5, Hayes 3.

Racal Motors (60) — Ortouste 22, Ruaya 10, Jamito 8, Gil 7, Viernes 4, Canta 4, Ibay 3, Gabawan 2, Mercader 0, DiGregorio 0, Abuludto 0, Saitanan 0, Publico 0.

Quarterscores: 21-21; 44-33; 60-48; 70-60.

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