MANILA, Philippines—It was a glorious thievery.
NCAA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson raised his defense in the clutch to seal the 2015 PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup title for the Hapee Fresh Fighters as they swept the Cagayan Rising Suns, 93-91, in game 2 of the best-of-three finals Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Down 90-91, Thompson rose up and stole Moala Tautuaa’s inbound pass and scored on a layup to give Hapee a 92-91 lead with 22.1 remaining.
Thompson wasn’t done, he then picked the pockets of Aly Austria as the Cagayan guard was dribbling up the court.
“Coach (Ronnie Magsanoc) just told me to pressure the ball, and pressure I did,” Thompson, who finished with 11 points, five steals and one block.
Holding on to that precarious 93-91 lead, Hapee once again found Thompson, who stepped up to the plate.
With less than five seconds remaining, Don Trollano rose up for a game-winning three from the left corner but Thompson was there to reject the leather.
“Before he even got up for the shot, I went up and just hoped that ‘I’ll get this one,’” Thompson said.
Hapee’s rotation was thrown into disarray when Ray Ray Parks went down with a shoulder injury at the start of the first, Garvo Lanete suffered cramps on both of his legs and then Troy Rosario skipped with a sprained right ankle with 1:46 left in overtime.
Magsanoc gave all the players credit as the undermanned bunch scrapped its way to the title.
“The players willed us to the win,” Magsanoc said.
He added that he couldn’t catch Thompson’s defensive feats fast as it happened so fast, and when he looked at the scoreboard, they were up in points.
“I didn’t know what was happening I didn’t see it,” Magsanoc said in amazement. “When I looked up we were ahead.”
Cagayan’s talisman Tautuaa had the chance to send the series to a third game but he split his free throws which was only enough to send the game to overtime, 82-82.
Lanete led the Hapee offensive with 22 points while Rosario willed his way to 20 points and 13 rebounds. Ola Adeogun added another double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Abel Galliguez led Cagayan with 18 points with Celedonio adding 17, while Jason Melano and Tautuaa had 13 points apiece.
This championship caps Hapee’s return to the basketball circuit after four years of absence.