During the first half, Cebuana Lhuillier could not hit any three-pointers. But when the Gems needed a triple late in the game, Jai Reyes delivered.
The ex-pro banged crucial back-to-back triples for the Gems as they defeated RnW Pacific Pipes, 77-64, Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Arellano University Gym.
Reyes nailed the three-pointers after the Steelmasters came to within four points with nearly two and a half minutes to go in the game to lead the Gems to their third straight victory.
Reyes put a stop to an RnW mini-run with a three-pointer. After the Steelers rseponded with a Raymond Ilagan putback, the former Powerade Tiger uncorked another open shot from the left side giving the Gems a 72-64 lead.
Reyes’ hot shooting came at the right time after Cebuana Lhuiller missed all 14 shots from behind the arc in the first half.
“Those were open shots and the ones taking it have the ability to convert. But we made some adjustments going inside out and eventually, we made our shots from outside,” said Cebuana Lhuillier coach Luigi Trillo.
Vic Manuel had a game-high 22 points for the Gems while Reyes had 13. They were also responsible for building a 13-0 run to close out the third quarter for a 54-42 lead going into the fourth period.
Jovit Dela Cruz converted a lay-up to cap a 9-2 run to pull RnW Pacific Pipes to within four points, 64-60, with 2:38 left in the game.
But RnW Pacific Pipes would only score two baskets following that run with Reyes playing the hero’s role.
Reyes converted Cebuana’s first three-pointer of the game to reclaim the lead, 36-33. Kevin Racal, however, tallied five straight points to retake the lead for RnW Pacific Pipes, 42-41, before that huge turnaround by the Gems.
Racal had 17 points to lead the Steelmasters while Jim Viray and Dela Cruz had 13 and 12 each.
RnW Pacific Pipes dipped to 1-2.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER 77—Manuel 22, Reyes 13, Llagas 13, Hayes 6, Cruz 6, Romeo 6, Mangahas 5, Celada 4, Atkins 2, Exciminiano 0, Almazan 0.
RNW PACIFIC PIPES 64—Racal 17, Viray 12, Dela Cruz 12, Del Rio 8, Maiquez 6, Ilagan 3, Antonio 2, Miranda 2, Delgado 1, Zulueta 0, Importante 0.
Quarters: 18-19, 29-31, 54-42, 77-64.