The top-seeded Misamis Oriental Meteors blew a 20-point lead but recovered just in time to beat defending champion Cebu Niños, 70-64, in Game 1 of their 2009 Smart Liga Pilipinas Confefence II Championship Series at the jampacked Xavier University Gym.

The title-hungry wards of Gov. Oscar Moreno and Coach Jun Noel jumped the gun early on the well-rested Niños by leading, 20-8 after the first quarter. The Meteors starring Mark Yee, Erian Daja and Ramil Tagupa further stretched their lead in the second quarter as the cold-shooting Niños couldn’t find a bucket. The half ended, 36-20 in favor of MisOr.

A 6-2 run at the start of the second half capped by a short stab by Yee gave the Meteors their biggest lead 42-22 to the delight of the large crowd. Then the Niños began a pressing defense led by bull-strong Ariel Mepaña, Bruce Dacia and ex-pro Jojo Tangkay and a searing rally cut the deficit to 52-44 entering the final canto.

Mepaña almost single-handedly carried Cebu and his put back off a Tangkay miss gave the Niños their first taste of the lead 57-56. But the Meteors regrouped and a 3-point shot by Mark Yee gave MisOr a 62-57 lead, less than 5 minutes remaining.

MisOr had a 64-62 lead when Cebu couldn’t convert that could have tied the game. In the ensuing play, Ramil Tagupa made a fall-away 12-foot jump shot in the lane to stretch their lead to 4, less than a minute to go. After a missed 3-point shot by Bruce Dacia, Mark Moreño burried his own triple to put the game away, 69-62.

Game 2 is set again today at 6:00 pm at the Xavier U Gym.

HOW THEY SCORED:

MISAMIS ORIENTAL (70) – Yee 19, Daja 12, Tagupa 10, Moreno 9, Mente 5, Gudez 5, Bombeo 4, Butel 4, Kong 2, Paterno 0, Sanchez 0.

CEBU (64) – Dacia 15, Mepana 15, Ababon 11, Tangkay 8, Santos 7, Enriquez 4, Padilla 3, Basco 1, Cavan 0, Aying 0, Dizon 0.

Period Scores: 20-8, 36-20, 52-44, 70-64.

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