HAPEE is one win away from the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup title after a surprisingly easy 82-74 victory over Cagayan Valley on Monday in Game One of best-of-three finals at The Arena in San Juan.
The Fresh Fighters used a huge 15-0 run to close out the first quarter for a 29-11 advantage, and time and stopped several attempts by the Rising Suns to close the gap.
Hapee looks to complete the sweep on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Ola Adeogun had 21 points and 15 rebounds, while Troy Rosario added 16 points and the two Hapee big men combined for 14 points in the huge first-quarter breakaway.
The Fresh Fighters were ahead by only 14-11 when they launched that scintillating rally and led by as many as 20 points in the first half.
“It is important for us to turn this game into a defensive series because Cagayan has a high-octane offense,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
Art de la Cruz added 11 for Hapee, which is going for its first PBA D-League title in its first try after last seeing action in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
Cagayan Valley had four players in double figures with Moala Tautuaa finishing with 16 points, but Magsanoc was satisfied with his team's defensive effort.
“You can’t limit them to 70 points or less but you have to limit their scorers,” said Magsanoc.
The Rising Suns, however, were still able to cut the deficit late in the second quarter with a 12-4 run to trail by only 13 points, 45-32.
Cagayan Valley further trimmed the deficit to as low as 50-46 but Hapee answered with an 11-2 blast for a 61-48 advantage.
“Napaka-aga ’yung run eh. Alam mo naman ang Cagayan, nagra-run din talaga sila. We expect them to come back. Ang importante is you are composed with that comeback,” Magsanoc said.
Michael Mabulac had 10 of his 14 points in the first half in helping the Rising Suns get back in the game. Don Trollano added 13 for Cagayan Valley.
Hapee (82) — Adeogun 21, Rosario 16, Dela Cruz 11, Amer 9, Lanete 9, Parks 6, Thompson 6, Newsome 3, Elorde 1, Long 0, Mendoza 0, Hayes 0.
Cagayan Valley (74) — Tautuaa 16, Mabulac 14, Trollano 13, Melano 12, Salamat 7, Celada 4, Dilay 3, Galliguez 3, Flores 2, Austria 0, Tayongtong 0, Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 29-11; 45-32; 67-54; 82-74.