(Photos by Richard Esguerra/Sports Gateway PH)
Blending professional players with some of the country’s best collegiate gunners, the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup opened its new season on Thursday, and bannered eight teams that will go up against each other in quest of clinching the Aspirants Cup title this year.
Four of these eight aspirant teams had their debut games right after the opening ceremony, with Caida Tiles facing Tanduay Light and University of the Philippines-QRS/JAM Liner battling National University-BDO at the FilOil Flying V Arena, San Juan.
Jiovani Jalalon led former Racal/Keramix Mixers, now Caida Tile Masters in tallying their maiden victory past Tanduay Light, 90-79, as the Arellano University stalwart dropped 17 bombs to be named as Best Player of the Game.
University of the East’s Chris Javier also did his share of 16 markers anchored on smart assists given off by Jalalon during crunch time, where Tanduay Light redeemed their momentum and got closer to Caida by just 4 points halfway through the final stretch.
Ryan Wetherell sparked the plug and knocked down jumpers which momentarily shackled the Tile Masters, and it also went in Tanduay’s advantage that Joseph Eriobu sent treys from the arc that boosted the mark with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.
But the Jalalon-Javier duo was simply uncontrollable down the wire, thereby ousting Tanduay’s effort to cruise the Caida Tile Masters to their first victory.
On the other hand, it was Raymond Aguilar who highlighted the second game with his double-double aftermath of 18 points and 13 boards, as the University of the Philippines-QRS/JAM Liner -prevailed over National University-BDO, 90-85, to register the UP Maroon-laden team’s first triumph in the 2016 Aspirants Cup.
Maroons guard Paul Desiderio did what he does best with 24 points, 21 hits of which came from his timely triples that basically set up the tempo for UP-QRS/JAM Liner halfway through the homerun.
Yet the Bulldogs, who bannered the National University-BDO team collaboration, refused to be outgunned so easily and plotted for a comeback behind the combined heroics of Jjay Alejandro and Paolo Javelona which put the Bulldogs ahead by 3 points, 81-79.
The 81-79 advance was NU-BDO’s final hurrah though, as Gelo Alolino knocked down a game-tying triple that knotted the scores at 81-81 with just a minute to play.
National University still held on to fight, but Raymond Aguilar was at the right spot at the right time to bring down another three-pointer to abolish the deadlock and put UP-QRS/JAM Liner back on the driver’s seat and seal the victory.
Jjay Alejandro finished with 21 points, while Paolo Javelona had 13 markers in a losing effort for National University-BDO.
First Game: CAIDA TILE MASTERS vs TANDUAY LIGHT
CAIDA TILE MASTERS (90) – Jalalon 17, Javier 16, Robles 14, Cabrera 9, Terso 7, Maiquez 6, Perkins 6, Lozada 4, Ruaya 4, Grey 3, Gabawan 2, Pasculado 2, Corpuz 0, Pascual 0.
TANDUAY LIGHT (79) – Wetherell 21, Eriobu 11, Llagas 11, Celda 9, Lingganay 8, Pessumal 6, Gotladera 4, Javillonar 3, Tagarda 3, Santos 2, Cenal 1, Belencion 0, Koga 0, Lo 0.
Second Game: UP-QRS/JAM LINER vs NATIONAL UNIVERSITY-BDO
UP-QRS/JAM Liner (90) – Desiderio 24, Aguilar 18, Baloria 16, Alolino 11, Ferrer 8, Batino 6, Soyud 5, Moralde 2, Dario 0, Asilum 0, Vito 0, Neypes 0, Harris 0.
NU-BDO (85) – Alejandro 21, Javelona 13, Tansingco 10, Aroga 10, Rono 10, Salem 8, Perez 4, Labingisa 4, Salim 3, Diputado 2, Yu 0.