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PBA D-League: Jonnel Policarpio shines anew as La Salle-Ecooil claims third consecutive victory

Defending titlist La Salle-Ecooil surged in the second half to fend off Centro Escolar, 89-61, and maintain an unbeaten record in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup held on Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

After a sluggish start, the Green Archers unleashed their defensive prowess, limiting the Scorpions to only 25 points, securing their third consecutive victory in as many games.

La Salle-Ecooil, eyeing a three-peat, broke away from a tie with idle Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda (2-0), now leading solo halfway through the brief tournament featuring only six teams.

For the third straight game, Jonnel Policarpio led the charge with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in just 22 minutes of play, emerging as the D-League’s standout player in the single-round eliminations.

The versatile forward, who scored 22 and 17 points in the first two games, faced solid coverage from Henry Agunanne, who contributed 13 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks.

Mike Phillips added nine points and 12 rebounds, Earl Abadam had eight, while JC Macalalag, Raven Cortez, EJ Gollena, and team captain CJ Austria each chipped in seven points in the Green Archers’ well-rounded offensive effort.

However, La Salle’s victory was hard-fought, at least in the first half.

After cruising past their first two opponents with a substantial winning margin averaging 34.5 points, La Salle encountered resistance from CEU, trailing 12-20, but managed to equalize at 36-all by halftime, eventually securing a 61-49 lead by the end of the third quarter, highlighted by Policarpio’s jumper.

This effectively drained the Scorpions’ resolve, allowing the Green Archers to cruise to a convincing 28-point win.

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Jayson Puray and Justin Guevarra scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Scorpions, whose D-League debut was spoiled after clinching back-to-back titles in the Universities and Colleges Athletic League.

Meanwhile, CCI-Yengskivel held off Keanzel Basketball, 80-73, in a matchup between rookie teams, marking a strong rebound for the Bulacan-based dribblers.

Four players reached double digits, led by Victor Ryan Nuarin with 19 points, five rebounds, and two steals as the team, now 1-1, claimed the third spot in the six-team tournament, trailing only unbeaten La Salle and Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda.

The Scores:

First Game:
CCI-Yengskivel 80 – Nuarin 19, Manipolo 13, Tener 11, Buenaflor 11, Jawili 6, Galvez 5, Esguerra 5, Dela Cruz 5, Talagtag 3, Puzon 2, Verdadero 0, Guray 0, De Guzman 0.
Keanzel 73 – Alota 17, Gayosa 15, Ceniza 14, Wong 6, Villaflor 5, Sison 4, Calacalsada 4, Baclig 4, Villamor 5, Panlilio 0, Camay 0, Magpayo 0, Advincula 0.
Quarterscores: 38-15, 46-38, 60-48, 80-73.

Second Game:
La Salle-Ecooil 89 – Policarpio 18, Agunanne 13, Phillips 9, Abadam 8, Cortez 7, Macalalag 7, Gollena 7, Austria 7, Marasigan 5, Rubico 4, Buensalida 2, Daja 2, David 0, Alian 0.
CEU 61 – Puray 12, Guevarra 10, Marcelo 9, Malicana 7, Santos 7, Gamboa 5, Bernabe 4, Olusesi 3, Serrano 2, Mendoza 2, De Guzman 0, Benitez 0.
Quarterscores: 14-21, 36-36, 61-49, 89-61.

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