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Cignal crowns itself PBA D-League kings again

By Ariel Clarito

MANILA--The Cignal HD Hawkeyes turned to their veterans to fend off the Centro Escolar University Scorpions, 79-69, to win Game 2 and bag the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The Hawkeyes got off to a hot start as it turned a five-point first quarter lead to a 45-30 advantage at the halftime break.

Knowing fully well the challenge and pressure in closing out a finals series, Coach Boyet Fernandez unleashed his ex-PBA players Oping Sumalinog, Harold Arboleda, and Jonathan Uyloan to steady the ship and provide not only composure but also offensive firepower.

Sumalinog and Arboleda paced Cignal with 13 points apiece, while Uyloan scored 11 points built on three triples.

Jason Perkins also provided muscle underneath for the Hawkeyes who again missed the services of recently named Foundation Cup MVP Raymar Jose, who is currently in Malaysia to perform national duties with the Gilas cadets team.

Perkins, who posted a double-double in Game 1 of the championship series, again displayed his all-around brilliance as he delivered eight points, seven rebounds and two assists aside from trying to make life difficult for CEU's Congolese center Rod Ebondo who had to labor for his 20 points.

Cignal dominated the game and seemed well on its way to an easy victory when it erected a 19-point lead , 69-50, with a little over seven minutes left in the ballgame.

But the Scorpions, which showed its fighting heart in pulling the rug from fancied Flying V in the semifinals, again showed its resilience as it crawled its way back into the game. CEU managed to cut the lead down to eight, 75-67, with less than a minute to play.

Cignal had to rely on the experience of Arboleda, who sank two free throws to close the door on CEU.

The Hawkeyes, who won Game 1 comfortably with a score of 78-56, thus cemented its claim as the PBA D-League's best team after having previously won the Aspirants Cup, becoming just the third team after NLEX Road Warrions and Phoenix Accelerators to win back-to-back D-League championships.

It is the eighth PBA D-League title for Coach Boyet Fernandez who was also at the helm when NLEX won back-to-back D-League crowns.

Box Scores:

Cignal 79–Sumalinog 13, Arboleda 13, Uyloan 11, Perkins 8, Apinan 7, Bringas 6, Raymundo 6, Villarias 5, Sara 4, Batino 4, Cahilig 2

CEU 69–Ebondo 20, Wamar 11, Guinitaran 9, CasiƱo 8, Aquino 7, Jeruta 7, Manlangit 4, Baconcon 3, Arim 0, Cruz 0, Intic 0

Quarterscores: 21-16, 45-30, 60-48, 79-69

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