Gems sparkle, thwart Waves
Rising Suns nail 1st league winBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Retooled Cebuana Lhuillier got through its first test as June Dizon keyed a strong finish to power the Gems past Boracay Rum, 86-76, at the start of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Thursday at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Dizon buried six of Cebuana’s last 11 points in the final three minutes, helping the Gems pull away from the Waves for good from a slim 75-71 advantage.
Cebuana coach Beaujing Acot said his Gems, a semifinalist last conference, have been adjusting from the departure of several marquee players led by former MVP Vic Manuel and gunner Kevin Alas.
“We didn’t get big names, but we got role players who want to be big,” said Acot. “It’s a new team, so it’s a process.”
Dizon finished with 18 points to share scoring honors with James Mangahas.
Cagayan Valley also got off to a winning start as the Rising Suns slipped past Informatics, 89-85, for their first league triumph after a winless stint last conference.
Chris Exciminiano fired 20 points and James Forrester added 15, the last on a breakaway after the Icons blew a chance to tie or win the game following a turnover in the dwindling seconds.
“It’s a welcome win after the last conference when we went 0-9,” said Cagayan coach Alvin Pua.
Forrester, a Filipino-Canadian standout from Arellano, also collected five rebounds, seven assists and a couple of steals for the Rising Suns.
The Gems lost several key cogs to the pro league including Manuel and Yousef Taha, while Alas was tapped by three-time champion NLEX and Terrence Romeo by Big Chill.
Eric Suguitan posted a double-double of 10 points and 13 boards for the Gems.
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, Catlos 4, Sanghera 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 42-43, 68-66, 89-85
CEBUANA LHUILLIER 86—Mangahas 18, Dizon 18, Aguilar 10, Suguitan 10, Zamar 8, Custodio 7, Sarangay 6, Leynes 4, Mabayo 3, Buensuceso 2, Trinidad 0, Bagares 0.
BORACAY RUM 76—Taha 25, Bandaying 20, Viernes 7, Ilagan 7, Eguilos 6, Siruma 5, Sabellina 4, Foronda 2, Tolentino 0.
Quarters: 22-19, 37-40, 63-55, 86-76