Jeff Viernes waxed hot in the payoff period to rescue Che'Lu Bar and Grill, 112-97, over Centro Escolar University in Game 1 of the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semi-finals at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig on Tuesday.
The former GlobalPort slasher unfurled 14 of his 21 points in an explosive fourth quarter as he single-handedly kept the rallying Scorpions at bay.
CEU cut a 20-point deficit (79-59) in the third quarter, to just, 94-90 with a Judel Fuentes triple at the 3:11 mark of the canto. But Chris Bitoon nailed a 3-pointer and Viernes hit four straight points to give the Revellers an 11-point cushion, 101-90 with 2:17 to play.
"Yun nga ang palaging problem sa team na ito, yung complacency. Paulit ulit ko pinapaalala yun sa kanila," said coach Stevenson Tiu. "Good thing mas beterano kami kaya may advantage kami sa endgame."
Levi Hernandez came off the bench and topscored for the Revellers with 24 points and three rebounds, while Jessie Collado delivered 18 points and five rebounds.
Jay-R Taganas also muscled his way to a double-double of 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
Che'Lu Bar and Grill can sweep the best-of-three series and advance to the championship round with a win over CEU as Game 2 is slated on Thursday.
Judel Fuentes paced the Scorpions with 27 points and six rebounds, while Jan Formento got 17.
CHE'LU BAR AND GRILL 112 - Hernandez 24, Viernes 21, Collado 18, Bitoon 16, Siruma 11, Melano 6, Sta. Ana 6, Ruaya 5, Taganas 4, De Joya 1.
CEU 97 - Fuentes 27, Formento 17, Rojas 15, Guinitaran 10, Chan 9, Intic 5, Oloume 4, Wamar 4, Ke. Caballero 2, Ko. Caballero 2, Uri 2.
Quarters: 28-26, 53-46, 82-69, 112-97.