THE M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños survived an end-game scare to beat the stubborn Hobe Bihon-Taguig City, 95-86, in the opening day of the Cebu City Leg of the Tournament of the Philippines (TOP) held at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
In the opening game, the Misamis Oriental Meteors held the Mandaue-Cebu Landmasters to just three points in the entire second quarter for a 93-81 win.
Today, the Niños will play the Landmasters in the main game at 7 p.m. while MisOr and Taguig play in the 5 p.m. match.
The Niños showed no rust as they jumped to a quick 10-0 run after allowing Taguig to score the first basket in the opening quarter.
Cebu was 33-of-83 from the field, including an 11-of-36 clip from three-point land for a double-digit lead that lasted for 30 minutes, starting with Marlon Basco’s triple at the 4:30 mark of the first that gave the Niños a 19-9 lead.
Taguig scored eight points off 20 Cebu turnovers, 15 fastbreak points and had its bench outscoring the Niños, 52-28. That gave the home team the scare of a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that cut down a 65-43 lead to an 80-85 deficit.
But the timely shuffling of coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba’s boys made it possible for the Niños to take control of the match until the final buzzer.
Marlon Basco, who fouled out in the final 57.5 seconds of the game, scored 15 points on top of 10 rebounds and two steals to help Cebu continue its winning run to 26 games, dating back to the Conference 3 of last year.
Abby Santos topscored for Cebu with 18 points.
Bruce Dacia and Mark Ababon had 14 points each and Stephen Padilla finished with 13 markers.
Lou Gatumbato led Taguig scorers with 12 points and Jemal Vizcarra and Benedict Fernandez added 11 points each.
Meanwhile, the Meteors struggled in the opening quarter, but made life difficult for the Landmasters in the second when its defense started to hold and never looked back.
Neil Rañeses scored the game-high 23 points and Eder Saldua added 19.
Ramil Tagupa finished with 15 for MisOr, while James Laygo topscored for the Landmasters with 18 points with Ritchum Dennison and Jay-R Gerilla adding 14 points each, Paul Alcaraz scoring 12 and Eric Zanoria with 11.