MANILA, Philippines—Streaking Cagayan Valley showed no rust in nipping Cebuana Lhuillier, 86-82, Tuesday in the 2012 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the JCSGO gym in Cubao, Quezon City.
Chris Eximiniano erupted with 24 points as the Rising Suns, who didn’t play for two weeks, made crucial stops in the closing minute to secure their second straight win and fourth overall in five games.
Cagayan Valley wrestled the lead from Cebuana Lhuiller with 1:26 left to play on a jumper by James Forrester, who poured nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
The Rising Suns then forced the Gems to two crucial turnovers before Cebuana Lhuillier missed their final chance to tie the game as Raymond Aguilar missed two free throws with 9.6 seconds to go.
Despite their success, coach Alvin Pua said the attitude of his squad—who went winless in its maiden conference—was a letdown.
“Maganda ang umpisa namin. Pero tulad ng dati kapag medyo malaki na ang lamang nagre-relax ang mga bata,” Pua noted.
Pua pointed out that their loss of focus paved the way for the Gems to get in rhythm which, luckily, didn’t cost them the game for good.
The Rising Suns moved up to solo third place behind defending champion NLEX (5-0) and Big Chill (4-0) while Cebuana sunk to 2-3.
Aguilar had 20 points while guard Paul Zamar added 14 for the Gems, who was even poised to break away after posting a 57-48 lead with 3:10 left in the third.
Cagayan Valley 86—Eximiniano 24, Forrester 17, Melano 15, Bringas 8, Poligrates 6, Gusi 5, Almazan 5, Celeda 4, Lao 2, Cruz 0, Bartolo 0, Webb 0.
Cebuana Lhuillier 82—Aguilar 20, Zamar 14, Buensuceso 9, Tagarda 6, Custodio 6, Baustista 6, Mabayo 5, Dizon 5, Mangahas 4, Sarangay 4, Leynes 3, Banal 0, Rowe 0, Suguitan 0.
Quarters: 19-16; 38-38; 60-63; 86-82