By CHRISTIAN JACINTO
Game Tomorrow (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
3 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs Blackwater
Hog’s Breath Café rallied from a double-digit deficit to hack out a masterful 82-79 win over Cagayan Valley and barge into the semifinals yesterday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup quarterfinals at The Arena in San Juan.
Jansen Rios’ basket off Kenneth Ighalo gave the Razorbacks an 80-79 lead with 24 seconds left before the Rising Suns wasted two opportunities to force a rubber match.
Cagayan’s Mark Cruz missed a crucial free throw after he was fouled away from the ball by Hog’s Ali Austria before Andrian Celada muffed a jumper on the next play.
The win earned Hog’s Breath its first semis berth after a lowly performance in its maiden campaign in last year’s Foundation Cup and will face defending champion NLEX in a best-of-three series.
“I think they worked hard in the second half, it was a game of adjustments and we won,” said coach Caloy Garcia, who the other day took charge for Rain or Shine following Yeng Guiao’s ejection to win Game 4 of their PBA semifinal series.
Kevin Racal scored 15 points for Hog’s Breath, which stormed back from a 40-22 deficit late in the second quarter.
Blackwater Sports leaned on the exploits of Allan Mangahas and Gilbert Bulawan to beat Jumbo Plastic, 86-78, and force a rubber match for a semis berth.
Mangahas and Bulawan combined for 13 points in the first quarter as the Elite led 25-15 before negating Linoleum Giants’ size-advantage with their slow-tempo offense and excellent half-court pressure to stay alive in the tournament.
Kevin Ferrer topscored with 16 points, Jericho Cruz added 15 points while Gio Ciriacruz and Pari Llagas made 13 points apiece as Blackwater forced a rubber match for a semis slot tomorrow at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.