Saints, Stags force rubber matches

Adalem Construction-St. Clare and Apex Fuel-San Sebastian beat their respective foes to keep their title chances alive in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Aspirants Cup best-of-three semifinals yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Stags averted disaster en route to a thrilling 82-74 win over Marinerong Pilipino while the Saints prevailed over EcoOil-La Salle, 72-64, to equalize the series and force rubber matches on Wednesday.

Johnsherick Estrada and Joshua Fontanilla caught fire, powering St. Clare to the impressive win that serves as a fitting rebound to their 74-89 loss in Game 1 last Friday.

Estrada fired 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal while Fontanilla delivered 21 markers and three boards to bounce back from a sorry two-point performance in Game 1.

“We know that John and Joshua will finish the game, but we should also know that everything starts with our defense,” Adalem head coach Jinino Manansala said.

Despite falling behind by five, 19-14, in the opening minutes, the Saints threw their defensive blanket and limited that Green Archers to only 10 points in the second quarter to erect a comfortable lead at the half, 34-29.
Gilas Pilipinas Kevin Quiambao, however, refused to give up and nailed a crucial 5-0 swing that kept them to within three, 64-67, with 2:49 left in the payoff period.

But Estrada quickly recovered, dropping a booming trey to jack up the spread, 70-64, before watching Evan Nelle and Schonny Winston crumble under pressure after missing crucial three throws and a three-pointer.

Ben Phillips was the lone bright spot, firing 15 points and six rebounds for the Archers, who are looking to get the job done in Game 3.

The scores:
First game:
Adalem-St. Clare (72) — Estrada 22, Fontanilla 21, Rojas 9, Estacio, 6, Galang 5, Ndong 2, Lopez 2, Tapenio 0, Manacho 0, Victoriano 0, Gamboa 0, Acosta 0, Decano 0, Sumagaysay 0.
EcoOil-La Salle (64) — B. Phillips 15, Quiambao 9, Nelle 8, Nwanko 8, M. Phillips 8, Macalalag 0, Blanco 0, Manuel 0, Cortez 0, Buensalida 0, Nonoy 0.
Quarters: 14-19, 34-29, 51-52, 72-64.

Second game:
Apex Fuel-San Sebastian (82) — Calahat 15, Sumoda 14, Altamirano 13, Desoyo 10, Are 10, Felebrico 8, Villapondo 6, Escobido 4, Yambing 2, Shanoda 0, Una 0, Suico 0, Cosari 0, Garcia 0, Paglinawan 0.
Marinerong (74) — Go 28, De Liaño 11, Nocum 10, Agustin 9, Gamboa 7, Cariño 4, Manlangit 3, Pido 2, Bonifacio 0, Garcia 0, Lacap 0, Hernandez 0, Bonsubre 0.
Quarters: 16-11, 35-34, 60-58, 82-74.

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