Philippine Sports Performance debuted in style, pulling off a big 94-92 come-from-behind win over Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup opener, Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The neophyte squad did not shy away from the big stage in pulling the rug from under the Red Lions. They sprung back to life from 10 points down in the fourth quarter, highlighted by Ian Jay Yutuc’s go-ahead triple in the waning seconds.
Yutuc’s trey rattled out then inside the rim – and gave the Gymers the driver’s seat in the last 32 seconds. It capped a searing 19-8 rally from a 74-84 deficit midway through the payoff period.
“Sobrang saya kasi galing kami ng PSL (Pilipinas Super League) and we had a bad record there. Kabubuo pa lang ng team at nagbi-build pa lang kami ng chemistry and good thing, panalo sa first game. Team effort lang talaga,” said coach John Paolo Lao.
Four players finished in double digits for the Gymers led by Jayvee Dela Cruz’s 26 points built on seven triples. Dariel James Bayla chipped in 17, while Yutuc added 16 with seasoned cager Val Acuña contributing 15.
Dela Cruz added five rebounds, six assists and three steals to quarterback the offense of PSP. The team also got an ample coaching lift from Lao’s assistants and owners in PBA players Jericho Cruz (SMB), CJ Perez (SMB), and Jackson Corpuz (Magnolia).
Yukien Andrada fired 19 points, while Jacob Cortez had 15. Clifford Jopia collared 15 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in a foiled effort for the Red Lions.
San Beda, a perennial program in the NCAA albeit parading a young squad with the departure of Tony Ynot and Justine Sanchez, controlled the majority of the match with a lead as big as 12 points and kept PSP at bay until the last four minutes.
Up by 72-64 after three quarters, the Red Lions took command at 84-74 behind Peter Alfaro’s three and appeared to be headed for an easy win before the Gymers banked on the experience of Acuña and the heroic acts of Yutuc and Dela Cruz in the homestretch.
Dela Cruz, off a San Beda turnover after Yutuc’s clutch basket in the last 14 seconds, split his charities for the final count as Cortez missed a game-tying jumper at the buzzer.
PSP 94 – Dela Cruz 26, Bayla 17, Yutuc 16, Acuña 15, Velchez 8, Gabriel 5, Olegario 4, Dino 3, Soriano 0, Cesista 0, Mohammad 0, Castillo 0.
Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda 92 – Andrada 19, Jopia 15, Cortez 15, Cuntapay 9, Payosing 8, Cometa 8, Gallego 8, Alfaro 6, Puno 2, Visser 2, Jalbuena 0, Tagala 0, LLarena 0, Royo 0.
Quarterscores: 27-30, 43-50, 64-72, 94-92.