The Tanduay Rhum Masters averted a huge meltdown and escaped the Racal Tile Masters, 88-86, to stay afloat in the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals, Thursday at Strike Gym in Bacoor, Cavite.
“Yun naman precisely ang target namin, yung ambisyon to make it to the Finals. We allowed ourselves to live to fight another day and now, we’ll go back to the drawing board,” said coach Lawrence Chongson, as his players held off a furious Tile Masters fightback after taking a 23-point lead, 68-45.
Gelo Alolino scattered 26 points, four rebounds, and four assists, including the 17-foot jumper to give the Rhum Masters an 88-86 edge in the last 39.3 seconds.
Reden Celda also poured seven of his 15 markers in the fourth period, to go with eight boards and six dimes, while Kevin Ferrer had 13 points and three rebounds.
Tanduay forced a do-or-die affair against the top seed Racal on Tuesday, with both teams eyeing their first D-League Finals appearance.
The Rhum Masters, though, had to deal with Jonathan Grey leading the fightback, as the former St. Benilde star waged the rally before missing the game-winning three at the buzzer.
“Number one-seed yung kalaban namin. Alam naming di basta-basta tutupi yan,” said Chongson. “We had some lapses and nag-creep in yun nung third.”
“But then, I’ll take it. We’ll leave this behind, learn from it by winning. Matira matibay na sa Tuesday.”
Grey led Racal with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Banal had 12 in the defeat.
Tanduay (88) – Alolino 26, Celda 15, Ferrer 13, Mendoza 10, Eguilos 8, Belencion 6, Acuna 4, Javillonar 4, Santos 2, Javelona 0, Lingganay 0, Tagarda 0.
Racal (86) – Grey 21, Banal 12, Ortuoste 11, Paniamogan 9, Celiz 8, Cabrera 5, Corpuz 5, Maiquez 5, Robles 4, Terso 4, Gabawan 2, Javier 0, Neypes 0.
Quarterscores: 22-22, 55-43, 72-63, 88-86.