SIMON Enciso sparked a sizzling start and fueled a fiery finish as Cebuana Lhuillier stunned erstwhile unbeaten Cagayan Valley, 89-85, on Thursday at the start of their semifinal showdown in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The guard from Notre Dame de Namur University in California and La Salle’s Almond Vosotros combined for 14 points in a hot first period where the Gems outscored the Rising Suns 29-10.
Enciso scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Gems foiled several rallies by the Rising Suns to draw first blood in the best-of-three series.
“For us, the good start was there. But it’s how you finish,” said Cebuana Lhuillier coach Boycie Zamar.
The Gems go for the sweep against the Rising Suns on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Top overall pick Moala Tautuaa was limited to only five points in the game as the top-seed Rising Suns suffered their first defeat of the Aspirants Cup after winning all their 11 elimination round games.
Allan Mangahas had 17 points, while Norbert Torres added 15 points for the Gems, who took a 37-11 lead in the second.
Jason Melano had 21 points while Don Trollano added 19 for the Rising Suns, who were able to cut the deficit to 49-42.
Enciso began the fourth with eight straight points to give the Gems an 81-66 cushion.
Cebuana Lhuillier (89)—Enciso 22, A. Mangahas 17, Torres 15, Vosotros 15, Bautista 8, Ferrer 6, Guinto 3, Acibar 2, Zamar 1, Villahermosa 0, Lopez 0, Sarangay 0.
Cagayan Valley (85)—Melano 21, Trollano 19, Austria 13, Celada 9, Mabulac 8, Dilay 5, Tautuaa 5, Tayongtong 3, Santos 1, Salamat 1, Olayon 0, Flores 0, Galliguez 0.
Quarterscores: 29-10; 47-35; 73-64; 89-85.