A buzzer-beating three-pointer from Roider Cabrera pushed the Freego Jeans Makers to grab the first game of the PBA D-League semi-finals against the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, 57-56, on Tuesday at the San Juan Arena.
With only a couple of ticks left in the clock, veteran guard Lester Alvarez made a last second decision to forego his shot and pass to Roider Cabrera instead. Cabrera hit a three from the right wing as the buzzer rang.
“Na-feel ko kasi na hindi para sa ’kin ‘yung shot. Nakita ko may open man dun sa kanan kaya pinasa ko kay Roider. Alam ko naman na kaya niyang i-shoot ‘yun eh,” said Alvarez after the match.
Freego is now up 1-0 in the best-of-three series. Game Two is scheduled on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Going into the game, big man Eric Camson said Coach Leo Austria warned them about being too complacent since they’ve already beaten Cebuana in the elimination round.
“Alam naman namin na magiging sobrang hirap nitong game na ‘to. Tsaka talagang gusto naming manalo dito sa first game kasi mahirap na pag naunahan ka [sa series]. Ilang beses na naming na-experience ‘yon sa Adamson,” said Camson.
Camson and Austin Manyara served as the Jeans Makers’ anchors in the first quarter with their defensive stops and rebounds.
Wingman Alex Nuyles hit back-to-back threes to give the team an 18-7 advantage at the end of the first.
Nuyles and Alvarez continued to strike on offense, stretching Freego’s lead to as much as 16 points, 29-13, in the second quarter.
The Cebuana Gems relied on the trusty hands of Vic Manuel for most of the first half. The veteran would eventually finish with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
The game’s momentum changed as soon as the fourth quarter started. The six-foot-seven Yousef Taha, who was back after a one-game hiatus, led the Gems’ defense leading to numerous turnovers from Freego.
Vic Manuel scored a fast break to tie the game at 44. He followed it up with another layup to get their first lead, 46-44, with five minutes left in the game.
The two teams exchanged baskets coming from big men Camson and Pari Llagas.
With only a minute remaining, Alvarez and Camson combined for eight points to give Freego a comfortable four-point lead, 54-50.
However, Terrence Romeo answered with back-to-back threes to give the Gems the upperhand with 11 seconds left, 56-54.
In the final possession, Cabrera hit a Hail Mary to bag the game for Freego, 57-56.
Cebuana scored higher than Freego in the last three frames. However, their deficit from the first quarter was too big for them to catch up.
Alvarez led the Jeans Makers with 16 points and four steals. — OMG, GMA News