Hapee Toothpaste outlasted Cebuana Lhuillier, 73-66, yesterday to advance to the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Ola Adeogun made the big plays down the stretch to push the Fresh Fighters to their second straight finals appearance.
Trailing 61-59 midway through the fourth period, the Fresh Fighters embarked on a 13-3 run, led by Adeogun who had seven markers.
Sparked by a three pointer from Mar Villahermosa, the Fresh Fighters went on a critical run to fortify their bid for second title after the Aspirants’ Cup.
Adeogun scored back to back baskets to help Hapee take a 69-63 lead with 1:22 remaining.
A Simon Enciso split gave the Gems a last gasp but Nico Elorde hit two free throws to put the game away.
“How we were able to get through it is a testament to the audacity of the players,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
“You can see that they were already drained but I think the reason why they were challenged is because we were facing the best team in the conference,” he added.
Adeogun finished with 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks to pace the Fresh Fighters who still missed the services of Gilas Cadet members Baser Amer, Earl Scottie Thompson and Troy Rosario.
“Everybody thought we can’t do it because we were missing key players. But we just played through it,” Adeogun said.
Art dela Cruz chipped 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals, while Elorde finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.
With the win, the Fresh Fighters now face the CafeFrance Bakers in a best of three affair starting Thursday at the same venue. (Christian Jacinto)
HAPEE 73 – Adeogun 20, Dela Cruz 14, Elorde 12, Newsome 8, Long 6, Villahermosa 6, Romero 4, Koga 3, Mendoza 0, Sorela 0
CEBUANA LHUILLIER 66 – Enciso 18, Tautuaa 12, A. Mangahas 11, Zamar 8, Lopez 8, Sarangay 4, Van Opstal 4, J. Mangahas 1, Corpuz 0, Acosta 0, Cabrera 0, Bautista 0
Quarters: 19-14; 33-26; 55-49; 73-66