La Salle-Ecooil secured its second consecutive title by defeating Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda in a closely contested Game 2, with a final score of 89-74, to complete a sweep of the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup finals on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
It took the Green Archers a half to withstand the anticipated fightback from the Red Lions. However, an impressive 17-4 run early in the third quarter provided the separation they needed to secure a 2-0 sweep in the short best-of-three title showdown.
Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao showcased his skills on the biggest stage, scoring 26 points, including eight during the game-changing run.
La Salle turned a slim 43-42 lead at halftime into a commanding 60-46 advantage and never looked back. Quiambao also contributed 10 rebounds, while Evan Nelle quarterbacked the team with 16 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and six steals.
Mark Nonoy had 14 points, while Mike Phillips recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“We expected the San Beda fightback. We cannot skip steps. ‘Di dapat namin isipin na champion agad. Most were expecting a blowout but we did not. We needed 40 minutes and we’re happy that the boys responded,” said Ecooil head coach Gian Nazario.
“Thankful na ako ‘yung MVP pero credit sa teammates ko at sa buong coaching staff namin dahil nakuha rin namin yung championship. ‘Yun naman talaga ang goal namin. We’re grateful,” added Quiambao.
La Salle easily won Game 1 with a score of 108-82 but found themselves in a tough battle in the first half of Game 2.
JV Gallego, who had a brief skirmish with Nonoy resulting in technical fouls for both players early on, led San Beda’s comeback with nine points in an impressive 12-1 run.
Down 30-39 in the last three minutes, Gallego ignited the Red Lions and put them ahead at 42-40, only for Mark Nonoy to regain the lead for the Green Archers with a buzzer-beating three-pointer before halftime.
From that point on, La Salle dominated the game, keeping San Beda at bay and seeking sweet redemption after losing in the Filoil finals the previous week. The Green Archers held a lead of as much as 19 points, 88-69, with a late three-pointer by Nonoy in the final minute.
Yukien Andrada scored 15 points, while James Payosing and Damie Cuntapay contributed 12 points each for the Red Lions. However, they struggled to match the firepower of the Green Archers and fell short of forcing a winner-take-all Game 3.
La Salle-Ecooil 89 – Quiambao 26, Nelle 16, Nonoy 14, Phillips M. 12, Escandor 6, Austria 6, Gollena 4, David 4, Phillips B. 1, Nwankwo 0, Manuel 0, Cortez 0.
Marinero-San Beda 74 – Andrada 15, Payosing 12, Cuntapay 12, Gallego 9, Cortez 8, Alfaro 8, Puno 4, Royo 2, Tagle 2, Visser 2, Jopia 0, Alloso 0.
Quarterscores: 27-20, 43-42, 70-58, 89-74.