MANILA, Philippines – Eliud Poligrates scored 17 points as Cagayan Valley beat Air21-JRU 80-68 for the first Finals slot in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Arena in San Juan.
The Rising Suns turned things around in the second half with their defense leading the way.
“Sobrang saya, first time kong pumasok ng Finals tapos ganitong liga agad (Very happy, my first time to enter the Finals in this kind of league),” said Cagayan head coach Alvin Pua.
Raymond Almazan just missed a double-double with eight points and 16 rebounds to go along with two blocks.
The Suns trailed by five by halftime before shutting down the Elite, limiting them to just 28 points in the last two quarters after going for 25 in the second period.
“Joshua Webb stepped up defensively as well as Jason Melano,” added Pua.
Kevin Ferrer led Blackwater with 18 points but was scoreless in the final quarter.
The Elite threatened a comeback after Allan Mangahas completed a three-point play to bring them to within 10.
Almazan put the finishing touches in style with an emphatic dunk off a feed from Chris Exciminiano to make it 80-66 with only 1:11 left.
Cagayan, which went winless last conference, will face either defending champion NLEX or Air21-JRU in a best-of-three championship series.