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Cignal takes Game 1 in PBA D-L finals

Cignal proved to be too strong for underdog Centro Escolar University to overcome and moved on the doorstep of capturing a second straight crown with a 78-56 victory last night in the best-of-three opener of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Jason Perkins, Mark Bringas and John Villarias led the Hawkeyes’ fiery start that led to a big lead before keeping the Scorpions cold on offense, thus making the perceived David versus Goliath battle into a reality.

Villarias topscored with 17 points, Perkins scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half while grabbing 11 rebounds and Bringas contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds as Cignal can clinch the title with another win tomorrow at the same venue.

The Hawkeyes, who are aiming to join the NLEX Road Warriors and Phoenix Accelerators as the only teams to win consecutive championships in the PBA’s developmental tournament, also drew vital contributions from point guard Pamboy Raymundo, forward Oping Sumalinog and big man Alfred Batino.

Raymundo dished out seven assists despite making just three points, Sumalinog was the other double-digit scorer with 11 while Batino had eight points and six rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.

“I’m happy with the way my players stepped up, they did stick to the game plan, and we executed really well in our offense,” said coach Boyet Fernandez, on the verge of winning a record-extending eighth D-League championship in nine finals appearances.