Cignal-Ateneo, CEU draw first blood in D-League semis
MANILA, Philippines – Cignal-Ateneo flexed their dominance in the 2019 PBA D-League semifinals with a 105-67 drubbing over fellow top-seeded Valencia-San Sebastian at the Paco Arena on Monday, June 3.
Ange Kouame led the Eagles' patented balanced attack with 19 points, 20 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 23 minutes on the floor.
Mike Nieto chipped in 12 markers off the bench while his twin brother Matt added 10 points and 8 assists in the win.
Both teams went back and forth up until midway through the 3rd quarter, where JM Calma gave the Stags a two-point lead, 52-50.
However, Ateneo cranked their game to another level since that point and outscored San Sebastian with a 33-6 run, bridging the final two quarters for an 81-58 lead.
With the job all but done, the Eagles further cruised ahead to a 38-point lead, 105-67, off a triple by Jason Credo at the 1:06 mark of regulation.
After the game, Ateneo lead assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga gave credit to the bench mob, as they were responsible for 51 of the Eagles' total points.
"I think our guys off the bench played well, whether it be offense or defense. I think they gave us a big lift and I guess that's one of the reasons why we got a big lead because of the play of our bench," he said.
RK Ilagan continued his stellar play for San Sebastian with 24 points, 16 coming in the second half.
Conversely, Allyn Bulanadi fired off 16 first half points, but was limited in the second half as he finished with 23 markers as the only other player in double-digit scoring for the Stags.
In stark contrast of the latter game, the CEU Scorpions continued their late-season Cinderella run with a 76-75 stunner over St. Clare-Virtual Reality in the day's curtain-raiser.
Senegalese star Malick Diouf carried the team on his back yet again, dropping a new league-record 33 rebounds to go with 19 points, 8 blocks, 4 assists, and 4 steals in a full 40-minute grind.
As the team limped on with just 7 active players, streaky scorer Rich Guinitaran came up big anew with 18 points and 6 boards, while Kurt Sunga added 16 markers, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists off their roomy bench.
After CEU willed itself to an 11-point lead midway through the 2nd quarter, St. Clare eventually came charging back with a 12-2 run to end the half just down 1, 31-32.
While the Scorpions did just enough to keep St. Clare's runs at bay in the second half, the Saints eventually got their first lead of the day off a drive by Irvin Palencia, 75-74, with 51 ticks left.
However, the breaks of the game did not fall St. Clare's way as CEU's Franz Diaz flung the ball to a streaking Guinitaran for the easy go-ahead layup with 13 seconds remaining.
Junjie Hallare had a wide-open look on the other end for the game-winning three-pointer, but his shot clanked off as CEU held on for a hard-earned win.
Palencia paced St. Clare on both ends with 18 points, 8 steals, and 3 assists off the bench. Shifty guard Joshua Fontanilla added 14 markers while Hallare churned out a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double in the losing effort.
Both series move to Game 2 on Thursday, June 6, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
CEU vs St. Clare-Virtual Reality
CEU 76 - Diouf 19, Guinitaran 18, Sunga 16, Diaz 13, Santos 8, Abastillas 2, Bernabe 0.
St. Clare-Virtual Reality 75 - Palencia 18, Fontanilla 14, Hallare 13, Rubio 10, Pare 8, Lunor 6, Fuentes 4, Ambuludto 2, Santos 0, Rivera 0.
Quarters: 15-9, 32-31, 54-48, 76-75.
Cignal-Ateneo vs Valencia-San Sebastian
Cignal-Ateneo 105 - Kouame 19, Mi. Nieto 12, Mendoza 11, Ma. Nieto 10, Ravena 10, Belangel 9, Wong 9, Mamuyac 7, Navarro 6, Andrade 6, Credo 3, Daves 2, Go 1, Tio 0, Berjay 0.
Valencia-San Sebastian 67 - Ilagan 24, Bulanadi 23, Capobres 8, Calma 8, Dela Cruz 2, Villapando 1, Tero 1, Sumoda 0, Bonleon 0, Desoyo 0, Are 0, Altamirano 0, Loristo 0, Calahat 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 34-35, 66-54, 105-67.