Archers, Skippers arrange title duel

EcoOil-La Salle and Marinerong Pilipino advanced to the finals after surviving separate foes in do-or-die Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League best-of-three semifinals series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

CJ Austria sizzled as the Green Archers forged a masterful 97-74 win over Adalem Construction-St. Clare, while the Skippers booked a return trip to the finals following a 69-64 victory over Apex Fuel-San Sebastian.

La Salle and Marinerong Pilipino will kick off their best-of-three finals duel on Sunday.

Austria was simply impressive, dropping 19 of his game-high 26 points in the first half to send the Archers to their first-ever finals appearance in the developmental league.

Gilas Pilipinas standout Kevin Quiambao added 16 points, four rebounds, while his frontcourt partner Mike Phillips put up an all-around performance of 14 points, 13 boards, six assists, five blocks and four steals.

“I’m really happy and satisfied with the way we played. The boys just played really hard today,” said EcoOil coach Derrick Pumaren, who entered his second finals stint since leading Centro Escolar University to the Aspirants’ Cup title in 2019.

“The things we were supposed to do last time around, we did it right today.”

The 6-foot-3 Austria was unstoppable early in the match, shooting 9-of-10 from the field that gave EcoOil a comfortable 52-40 cushion at the half.

The confident Archers continued the assault as Quiambao hit a triple to register their biggest lead at 27 points while keeping the Saints at arm’s length for the remainder of the game.

John Rojas topped the Saints with 17 points and five assists and Joshua Fontanilla added 16 markers on a frustrating 6-of-18 clip.

Juan Gomez de Liaño, meanwhile, led Marinerong Pilipino with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while AC Soberano stepped up with 14 points in less than 16 minutes of action.

“It was really all about our team mindset,” Gomez de Liaño said.

“We just had the right mindset coming into this do-or-die game.”

The scores:
First game
EcoOil-La Salle (97) — Austria 26, Quiambao 16, M. Phillips 14, Nelle 7, Escandor 7, Winston 7, Nwanko 5, Buensalida 4, Estacio 3, Cortez 3, Blanco 3, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 0, Nonoy 0.
Adalem-St. Clare (74) — Rojas 17, Fontanilla 16, Sablan 12, Estrada 10, Ndong 8, Sumagaysay 4, Estacio 4, Tapenio 0, Lopez 0, Manacho 0, Victoriano 0, Gamboa 0, Acosta 0, Decano 0.
Quarters: 22-20, 52-40, 78-54, 97-74.

Second game
Marinero (69) — Gomez de Liaño 23, Soberano 14, Go 11, Bonifacio 7, Cariño 6, Manlangit 1, Garcia 0, Lacap 0, Hernandez 0, Bonsubre 0, Agustin 0, Pido 0.
Apex Fuel-San Sebastian (64) — Calahat 19, Sumoda 15, Villapando 12, Desoyo 6, Felebrico 6, Altamirano 3, Escobido 3, Are 0, Una 0, Yambing 0, Shanoda 0, Suico 0, Cosari, Garcia 0, Paglinawan 0.
Quarters: 7-11, 25-26, 44-43, 69-64.

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