CAGAYAN finally nailed its first-ever win in the PBA D-League following a forgettable debut, defeating newcomer Informatics, 89-85, on opening day of the Aspirants Cup on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Chris Exciminiano led the Rising Suns in scoring with 20 points while Adrian Celada and college standouts Fil-Canadian James Forrester and Joshua Webb combined in a fourth quarter flourish to take the lead for good.
The Rising Suns didn’t score a single win in nine outings last conference but finally scored a breakthrough after beefing up their roster with a few top-notch collegiate players.
“Unlike last conference na 0-9, this conference, nakapanalo rin,” said Cagayan coach Alvin Pua. “Sana mag-tuluy-tuloy ang magandang composure ng mga bata.”
Former Arellano player Celada and Forrester, who is in the current Chiefs roster, had 15 points each while ex-La Salle player Webb added 11 markers for the Rising Suns.
A dunk by Forrester gave the Rising Suns an 81-73 lead.
Cagayan maintained the distance on a jumper by Edrian Lao with one minute and 16 seconds to play, 87-80.
A basket at the post by Carl Bryan Cruz and a three-pointer by RB Mangahas sliced the gap to two points and the Icons got a chance to tie the game after Lao was called for an offensive foul on an elbow to Cruz with 18.6 seconds to play.
The Icons, however, could not take advantage of the opportunity and lost possession as Cruz tried to post-up. Forrester hit a lay-up that settled the final score.
“This conference, wala naman kaming target, basta every game bigay lang naming ’yung best namin para kahit papano, andyan lang kami sa liga,” said Pua, who played for San Sebastian in the late 1990s.
CAGAYAN (89) – Exciminiano 20, Forrester 15, Celada 15, Webb 11, Lao 9, Poligrates 7, Bringas 5, Melano 4, Bartolo 3, Chiong 0, Dela Cruz 0, Macuha 0.
INFORMATICS (85) – Rogado 27, Hayes 22, Bautista 7, Doligon 7, Mangahas 6, Benitez 6, Cruz 6, Carlos 4, Sanghera 0, Acuna 0.
Quarterscores: 20-27; 42-43; 68-66; 89-85.