Cignal-San Beda outsteadied Racal down the stretch to take the 93-85 Game 1 victory in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Jason Perkins, Pamboy Raymundo, and Robert Bolick flexed their veteran smarts in the clutch to avert a meltdown and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 championship series.
Perkins scattered 28 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while Raymundo got 21 markers, three boards, and three assists in the win.
Bolick poured eight of his 19 points in the payoff period and had six assists and five rebounds in captaining the Hawkeyes’ escape act after squandering a 21-point lead in the third quarter.
“We did a good job with the way we started strong. But a team like Racal is capable of coming back from big deficits,” said coach Boyet Fernandez of what seemed to be an easy victory that turned out to be a thriller late.
“Today, it’s really the boys who stepped up and stopped the bleeding for us late in the game.”
Perkins and Raymundo combined for 36 points in the first half after a mercurial 52-percent shooting from the Hakweyes gave them a 55-36 halftime lead, which further ballooned to 21 at numerous points in the third frame.
The Tile Masters, though, waged a fourth quarter fightback with Rey Nambatac going on a blitz and slicing the lead to as low as five, 86-81, with 2:22 remaining, before Cignal regained control.
“We’re happy to get this one, but we only won one game,” said Fernandez. “We have to beat Racal again and there’s no enjoyment here. We have to rest and get ready for Game 2.”
Game 2 is on Monday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Nambatac led Racal as he scattered 23 points on a 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, on top of six rebounds and three assists, while Jackson Corpuz had 15 markers and eight boards.
CIGNAL 93 – Perkins 28, Raymundo 21, Bolick 19, Adamos 7, Arboleda 7, Oftana 6, Potts 5, Mocon 0, Batino 0, Tongco 0, Villarias 0, Bringas 0.
RACAL 85 – Nambatac 23, Corpuz 15, Onwubere 14, Gabayni 8, Salado 7, Torres 6, Mangahas 5, Dagangon 4, Capacio 2, Cabrera 1, Terso 0, Flores 0, Gabawan 0, Gumaru 0.
Quarters: 26-14, 55-36, 74-59, 93-85.