The Fighting Maroon within Paul Desiderio was on full display in the PBA D-League Finals, Thursday evening.
The 5-foot-11 guard completed Go for Gold’s comeback from 16 down, sinking the game-winning lay-up with three ticks left to lift the Scratchers over the Che’lu Bar and Grill Revellers, 98-96, in Game Three of the Foundation Cup Finals, Thursday.
Desiderio finished with a game-high 28 points, scoring eight of the Scratchers’ last nine in the match. The 21-year-old Cebuano shot 10-of-17 from the field, and also collared five boards in his best game of the series so far.
Having missed a series of games including the semis due to his commitments with UP, Desiderio’s performance atoned for the so-so outings he had in the first two games of the Finals, where he only normed 9.3 points.
“I rode with Paul,” said Go for Gold head coach Charles Tiu, who was visibly left in awe of the way Desiderio showed guts in the end-game.
“I said, ‘Bahala ka. Get the ball, do whatever you want, just take us home’, and he did.
“Siyempre gigil ako kasi first appearance ko ‘to sa Finals,” admitted the 22-year-old Desiderio. “Gusto ko makuha ‘tong kampeonato na ‘to.”
Thanks to Desiderio’s heroics, the Scratchers are now a win away from bagging home the crown. Go for Gold have a great opportunity to do so on Tuesday, August 21, in Game Four of the best-of-five series.
But it is easier said than done. And for Desiderio, they can’t rest on their laurels if they really want to win the gold.
“Siyempre masarap [na nanalo kami ngayong Game Three] pero kailangan pa namin trabahuhin yung Game Four,” declared Desiderio. “Sabi ko nga, back to zero pa rin. Kailangan yung mentality same pa rin nung una.
“Championship ‘to eh. Dapat [bigay-]buhay talaga.”
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