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PBA D-League: La Salle-EcoOil asserts dominance, advances to semis unscathed

Reigning champion La Salle-Ecooil reaffirmed its mastery over Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, 82-71, in a physical rematch to complete a sweep and secure an outright semifinal ticket in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

The Green Archers, who swept the Red Lions in last year’s finals, asserted their dominance right from the start, securing the No. 1 seed with a flawless 5-0 record in the six-team tournament.

La Salle’s victory in the clash between UAAP and NCAA champions averted a three-way tie and propelled Centro Escolar University (CEU) (4-1), who earlier defeated CCI-Yengskivel 96-78, to the second seed for the other automatic semifinal spot as San Beda settled for third place with a 3-2 record.

Although San Beda holds a twice-to-beat advantage, they now face the quarterfinals against the sixth-seeded Keanzel Basketball (0-5) before advancing to the best-of-three semifinals.

The other quarterfinal match features Go Torakku-St. Clare (2-3) and CCI-Yengskivel (1-4), with the former also enjoying a win-once bonus.

“The first thing we told our players heading into this game was we have to respect San Beda. They’re not the NCAA champions for nothing and they’re coming off a tough loss against CEU, so we expected a physical battle,” said Green Archers assistant coach Gian Nazario.

Joshua David led La Salle’s balanced attack with 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Jonnel Policarpio and Raven Cortez contributed 13 points each.

Twin towers Mike Phillips and Henry Agunanne also added 11 points apiece in the physical encounter marred by a series of flagrant fouls. CJ Austria delivered the biggest blow, committing a flagrant foul penalty 2 on Jomel Puno, resulting in an ejection early in the fourth quarter.

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Just like their first four blowout victories, La Salle dominated from the beginning with a 13-3 start, which they extended to a 30-19 lead after a scorching 11-0 run between quarters.

Bryan Sajonia led the charge for San Beda with 21 points, supported by contributions from Yukien Andrada, RC Calimag, and Puno, who added 16, 13, and 11 points, respectively.

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Meanwhile, Abdul-Wahab Olusesi led CEU’s win with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks, spearheading a strong second-half surge after struggling against the resilient CCI.

Skipper Jerome Santos and Dave Bernabe contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, as all players contributed to the scoring for the Scorpions, who held a narrow 53-46 lead at halftime before pulling away in the second half.

“We’ve put ourselves in a better position. We don’t have control of the La Salle-San Beda game, but hopefully, we can advance to the Top 2 for the outright semis. We’ll see from there,” said Scorpions head coach Jeff Perlas.

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Earlier in the day, Go Torakku-St. Clare secured the last twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals with a 124-90 victory over winless Keanzel Basketball.

“Must-win ito sa amin kasi kung natalo kami, possible pa 3-way tie sa 1-4. Sabi ko lang sa players, nakakalaro namin sila sa mother league namin at maganda naman ipinapakita namin, wag nating baguhin,” said St. Clare mentor Jinino Manansala. “Ito ‘yung resulta. Noong second half, umalagwa na.”

Go Torakku-St. Clare hardly needed the services of reinforcement Babacar Ndong, who sat out the match, as five players led the charge, with Eugene Cabauatan scoring 19 points, including seven in the third quarter, along with seven rebounds and two steals.

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Earl Yu contributed 13 points, ten of which came in the third period, Charles Burgos provided a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Megan Galang and Kint Manzano chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, for St. Clare, turning the close contest into a rout in the second half.

The Scores:

First Game:
Go Torakku-St. Clare 124 – Cabauatan 19, Burgos 13, Yu 13, Galang 11, Manzano 10, Russel 9, Balacaoc 9, Dumancas 8, Sual 8, De Guzman 7, Decano 6, Estacio 6, Tapenio 5, Angeles 0.
Keanzel 90 – Wong 31, Gayosa 17, Ceniza 12, Alota 12, Villamor 4, Ibo 4, Romero 3, Maurillo 3, Baclic 2, Advincula 2, Alina 0, Yambao 0.
Quarterscores: 19-25, 48-39, 89-60, 134-90.

Second Game:
CEU 96 – Olusesi 20, Santos 12, Bernabe 11, Marcelo 9, Puray 7, Darbin 6, Gamboa 6, De Guzman 5, Malicana 5, Serrano 5, Guevarra 4, Diaz 2, Benitez 2, Mendoza 2.
CCI-Yengskivel 78 – Laran 19, Valderama 13, Buenaflor 11, Nuarin 9, Esguerra 8, Jawili 7, Dever 5, Guray 3, Galvez 2, Talagtag 1, Palma 0, Puzon 0.
Quarterscores: 26-18, 53-46, 81-64, 96-78.

Third Game:
La Salle-Ecooil 82 – David 14, Policarpio 13, Cortez 13, Phillips 11, Agunanne 11, Macalalag 8, Austria 7, Abadam 5, Alian 0, Gollena 0, Gaspay 0, Romero 0, Buensalida 0.
Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda 71 – Sajonia 21, Andrada 16, Calimag R.C. 13, Puno 10, Calimag Jr. 6, Gonzales 3, Songcuya 2, Estacio 0, Tagle 0, Payosing 0, Celzo 0, Royo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-13, 49-30, 65-50, 82-71.

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