THE defending champions Sykes Pioneers are a win away from making a return trip to the finals after they crushed the Fusion BPO Dragons, 82-62, in Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinals in the Elite Classic division of the Tanduay Athletics E-Leagues for Basketball at the City Sports Club-Cebu basketball court on Saturday, December 21, 2019.
After a close first period that saw Sykes lead by just four, 18-14, the Pioneers came alive in the middle periods and outscored the Dragons, 48-27, to break the game wide open and pave the way for the easy victory.
With superstar forward Janjan Auditor out for the tournament because of an injury, four players stepped up and scored in double-figures led by former Cesafi All Star Victor Rabat who had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Three more former Cesafi studs also did damage as Earldred Montilla put up 16 points, five rebounds and six assists while Marl Laguna had 14 points, six boards and five dimes. Big man Mark Olmilla put up 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.
In the Evo League division, the Contact Solutions Lemurs and the Kyocera Frontiers are halfway through to the finals after they put down their respective opponents in the semifinals.
The Lemurs routed the Optum Knights, 70-50, as ace forward Joey Juntilla filled the stat-sheet up, tallying 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Jason Bancale added 12 points and six rebounds. Japhet Tuazon pitched in 10 to help the squad take a 1-0 series lead.
The writing was on the wall as early as the first half as Contact Solutions’ defense held Optum to seven points apiece in the first and second periods to establish a 28-14 halftime lead.
Lastly, last year’s runners-up, Kyocera, slipped past the Dynata Warriors, 61-56. The awesome twosome of Matthew Grafilo and Ariel Edera was up to their old tricks once again as they dominated the ballgame with remarkable performances.
Grafilo had 22 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Edera did it all, firing in 21 points to go with 12 rebounds, six assists and six steals.
Sykes, Contact Solutions and Kyocera will try to barge into the finals in Game 2 set on Sunday, December 22, 2019, at the same venue.