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The Cagayan de Oro Higalas booked their ticket to the semifinals of the Pilipinas Super League Pearl of the Orient Cup presented by Cocolife and backed by Smart 5G with a 64-57 win over the Cagayan Valley Golden Eagles on Monday evening at the Manuel Roxas Sports Complex.
The victory gave CDO a 9-5 record at the end of the elimination round, placing them as the third seed in the best-of-three semifinals. The Higalas will be taking on the second seed, Roxas Vanguards, with Game One on Tuesday.
Cagayan Valley, meanwhile, bowed out of the competition without a single win in 14 matches.
The win, though, was a hard-earned one for CDO as they trailed by as much as 11, 23-34, in the second canto, before turning it around late in the fourth and final canto, which they dominated, 24-11, to nab the victory.
Wide-bodied power forward Red Cachuela—who helped lead the Southwestern University-Phinma to the Cesafi title back in 2019—had a monster ballgame with 23 points and 14 rebounds to go with three steals and two blocks. Former University of San Jose-Recoletos standout Nichole Ubalde added 15 markers, three rebounds, three dimes, and four steals, while John Reel Saycon, a former Cesafi Mythical Five member, came off the bench and produced 11 points.
The Golden Eagles were eager to end their season on a victorious note and had the inside track as they led, 55-54, after a free-throw by James Castro with 1:45 remaining in the game. However, CDO relented as Cachuela and Ubalde responded with back-to-back baskets to give the Higalas a 58-55 lead with 33 ticks left.
Saycon then made six consecutive free-throws to hammer the final nails in Cagayan Valley’s coffin.
Castro led Cagayan Valley with 25 points and eight rebounds. However, he also committed six turnovers.