THE M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños proved their loss to the MP-GenSan Warriors was just a fluke as the top seeds moved to the semifinal round after a one-sided 93-86 win over the Warriors in the Tournament of the Philippines (TOP) held at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
Last July 22, the Warriors shocked the Niños, 79-74, and ended the 30-game winning run of the Cebuanos.
Last night, the Niños needed only one quarter to assert their supremacy as they broke the game wide open on the razzle-dazzle game of Richard Ian Saladaga.
Saladaga scored 11 of his 15 points in the second quarter.
After a close first quarter exchange, the Niños stretched a slim 19-17 lead for the first 10 minutes to 52-35 at the halftime break.
Inspired by the high adrenaline game of the second stringers, Cebu’s starters, led by Stephen Padilla and Warren Ybañez, combined for an energetic 16-2 run that put the home squad to a 68-40 lead at 4:42 mark of the third.
Sensing that the Warriors had nothing more to give, coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba sent back the second stringers and that allowed GenSan to trim the lead to 21 points with 1:54 to go before the start of the final period.
However, the Niños scored seven quick points that took away the morale of the visiting squad.
Despite playing against second stringers, the Warriors failed to find the momentum that could have changed.
The Niños shot 48 percent (36 of 75) from the field against MP’s 38 percent (29 of 76) and outrebounded the visitors, 52-43.
They also had more assists 23-19.
Padilla added 12 and Abbey Santos finished with 11 for the Niños, while Louie Medalla scored the game-high 23 points for Warriors.