Freego Jeans sweeps Cebuana for first PBA D-League finals berth

Mia Domingo

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MANILA, Philippines – Pressure-packed free throws in the dying seconds of the overtime period from Adamson Falcon Eric Camson cleared things up for Freego Jeans as they completed a conference sweep on Cebuana Lhuillier in the 2011-2012 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

The Jeans Makers won over the Gems 69-67 to book the first finals berth of the conference held at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Thursday, January 26.

It was a tightly fought contest from the start to finish.

Towards the final few seconds of the game, the Gems attempted but failed to take the lead. As Lester Alvarez missed on their end, the Gems hurriedly sprinted back to their half, with Jai Reyes taking charge but to no avail. King Falcon next season Alex Nuyles, who collared the rebound, gave a shed of light for Freego when he threw a prayer from midcourt but also missed.

Seesaw battle

It was Cebuana’s Vic Manuel drew first blood by making the first basket of the game, but the Jeans Makers’ Janus Lozada and Eric Camson countered with their own 8-0 blast to gain the upperhand, 8-2.

Freego Jeans eventually took the first quarter by six at the buzzer and proceeded to take control of the game for the first half.
In the third, following an exchange of baskets and a mini-rally by Cebuana, the Gems led by as many as seven, 43-37 thanks to the collective efforts of Pari Llagas and Manuel.
With 4:34 left in regulation, the Gems were down 59-51. They quickly turned to Terrence Romeo and Best Player of the Conference candidate Vic Manuel for the much needed points for their comeback. They teamed up for to a 10-2 run that did not only forge a 61-all count, but momentarily saved the Gems from early eviction.

Final quarter tie
Hanging on to a hairline lead to start the fourth, Rodney Brondial of the Adamson Falcons blitz five straight points to ignite things up for Freego, who instantly enjoyed another 52-46 lead.
The tough rookie Terrence Romeo led Cebuana’s comeback after scoring seven points in that quarter.

Pari Llagas, who played and donned his Cebuana jersey for the last time, turned the overtime period into a one-man show as he racked up all six points scored by the Gems.
The biggest spread for the Jeans Makers stood at eight, 59-51 following Lester Alvarez’s long jumper at the 4:34 mark of the fourth.
The Gems, who had a hard time overtaking the Jeans Makers only managed to tie Freego at 66-all in overtime after Llagas’ split charities at the 1:14 mark.
But the Jeans Makers seemed destined to sweep Cebuana in the conference. In their elimination round game last November 15, Freego won over the Gems through a six-point margin. Last Tuesday, Freego again edged Cebuana, this time by a hairline, 57-56.
Scoring Leaders
Nuyles, who still see action for Adamson next season under Coach Austria, led all scorers with 18 markers alongside nine rebounds and four assists. Alvarez chipped in 14 points, seven boards and five assists.
He may have exhibited a hint of immaturity with regards to his game including that prayer he threw in the dying seconds of the fourth when he could have called a time out to set things up first. Still, he whole-heartedly picked himself up and redeemed himself in the payoff period. He started it by knocking in a connection from long distance in the overtime period.

Cebuana gave a gallant stand as they gave Freego a good fight until the final buzzer. Manuel and Llagas turned in quality numbers as they had 20 and 18 markers respectively with a combined 21 boards. 

Jubilant Coach

Happy over his team’s performance, Freego Jeans Coach Leo Austria said, ” The boys worked really hard. We were not seeded from the start. Just to be in the Finals is already an achievement.”

“We now have the luxury of rest and advantage sa amin yun since may do-or-die pa ang kabila(referring to NLEX vs. Big Chill).” Added Austria.
“Kahit 3 days before the start of the tournament lang kami nagform ng team, nakabuo pa din kami ng quality team. Napapagaralan din pala lahat yan.”
Freego Jeans (69) — Nuyles 18, Alvarez 14, Lozada 11, Camson 8, Austria 7, Brondial 7, Manyara 2, Apinan 2, Sumalinog 0, Cabrera 0, Lopez 0.
Cebuana Lhuillier (67) — Manuel 20, Llagas 18, Romeo 9, Celada 5, Taha 5, Alas 4, Hayes 3, Reyes 3, Exciminiano 0.
Quarter Scores: 19-13, 34-32, 47-46, 61-61(reg.) 69-67 (final).
From: G

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