Big Chill ousts Cebuana LhuillierBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Big Chill blew a double-digit cushion in the second half before nipping Cebuana Lhuillier, 83-80, yesterday to claim the last title berth in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Alex Mallari and Jam Cortes starred in the clutch for the Superchargers, who lost a 54-40 lead and trailed at 58-61 before finishing strong in the winner-take all Game 3 to seal a best-of-three championship duel with NLEX starting Monday.
Mallari knocked in 20 points, including back-to-back triples as Big Chill forged the game’s deadlock, 71-71, and Cortes added 15.
“What a win, but I have to give credit to Cebuana,” said Big Chill coach Robert Sison.
“They (Gems) played a hell of a ball game and they weren’t demoralized. I’m just proud of our boys. They responded well to the pressure, especially in the end game.”
Big Chill will head into the finals the underdog against the unbeaten NLEX, the defending champion which swept Blackwater, 2-0, in their own semifinal series.
The Superchargers recorded a near 52 shooting clip in the first half where they maintained the lead in double figures. But Marvin Hayes and Janus Lozada sparked a 19-4 onslaught late in the third quarter that allowed the Gems to forge ahead.
“It’s a do-or-die game, so we expected that,” said Sison. “They even led but we kept our composure and rallied through that.”
Jessie Collado nailed a key triple with 1:43 minutes left that gave the lead back for good to the Superchargers, 81-78, from 60-69 early in the fourth period.
Mallari also had five rebounds seven assists and three steals, while Cortes and Raffy Reyes combined for 28 markers to help the Superchargers regain their bearings.
The Gems took Game 1 with a 79-66 victory, before the Superchargers leveled the series with an emphatic 111-70 Game 2 triumph last Tuesday.
BIG CHILL 83—Mallari 20, Cortes 15, Reyes 13, Jensen 11, Ponferrada 10, Montilla 5, Collado 3, Villahermosa 3, Tan 3.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER 80—Manuel 17, Taha 12, Hayes 10, Exciminiano 9, Lozada 9, Alvarez 9, Alas 5, Apinan 4, Austria 3, Llagas 2, Mangahas 0,Miranda 0.
Quarters: 23-9, 46-33, 58-61, 83-80