Gab Banal showed how badly he wanted to claim the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, leading the Go for Gold Scratchers to a big 102-92 Game Five victory over the Che’Lu Bar and Grill Revellers, Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The hardworking ex-pro unloaded 21 first half points, before coming back midway through the fourth frame to rescue the Scratchers late and finish with 31 points, six rebounds, and four assists in the conquest.
Banal’s efforts helped Go for Gold establish a 20-point advantage, 66-46, but Chris Bitoon carried the Revellers back in the game and got them within five, 86-81 at the 5:49 mark of the payoff period.
That’s where Banal weaved his magic again, leading a killer 8-0 run that brought the lead back to 13, 94-81 as Go for Gold cruised to the title.
“My dad was enough motivation for me,” said Banal, who narrowly lost to Jeff Viernes for the Conference MVP award but dedicated the triumph to his ailing father coach Joel Banal.
Matt Salem chimed in 15 points. Kris Porter added 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists, and Ron Dennison contributed 11, seven, and five for the Scratchers in the clincher.
“From the start, I really felt we’re the best team, not because of me but because the players. They are that talented and I told them, you just have to want it more,” said coach Charles Tiu.
Bitoon led Che’Lu Bar and Grill with 20 points and four rebounds, while Jason Melano got 17 points and eight boards to settle for a second straight runner-up finish.
Viernes had a night to forget with his 15 points on a paltry 4-of-12 shooting clip, on top of six rebounds, and three assists against seven turnovers in the defeat.
Go for Gold 102 — Banal 31, Salem 15, Porter 14, Dennison 11, Reyes 9, Tolentino 8, Canada 6, Desiderio 6, Gaco 2, Publico 0.
Che’Lu 92 — Bitoon 20, Melano 17, Viernes 15, Hernandez 13, Collado 11, Taganas 8, Siruma 6, Ruaya 2, De Joya 0.
Quarterscores: 27-18, 55-40, 83-65, 102-92.
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