MANILA, Philippines – The Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers earned a much-needed win over the University of Perpetual Help Altas, 78-73, in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the JCSGO Gym, Monday, February 26.
Aris Dionisio was stellar on both ends of the court, tallying a game-high 21 points, 6 blocks and 4 steals to go along with 11 fourth quarter points. He was the driving force behind Gamboa’s 24-8 run in the final 7 minutes of the game which Perpetual dominated for the first three quarters.
The Altas made it clear who would control the game early in the first frame, where Prince Eze threw down two poster dunks and Rey Villanueva scored 10 in an 18-2 run for an 11-point lead, 21-10. Perpetual used this momentum to answer back everything Gamboa put up in the scoreboard as they entered halftime with a 41-31 lead.
However, early in the third, the Coffee Lovers gave a precursor of things to come later on as they went on a 10-3 run, including a Mohammad Pare putback jam, to close the gap at 3, 41-44. But Edgar Charcos singlehandedly nullified that effort with a 7-0 run to put Perpetual back up 10, 51-41.
With the Altas still leading 63-54, Dionisio and Chris Bitoon cranked up the intensity for Gamboa that started their game-clinching run. Soon enough, the Altas succumbed to Dionisio’s multiple defensive stops combined with the increasing jeers of the Coffee Lovers’ bench. Their late-game efforts were finally realized when Bitoon sank a go-ahead and-one bucket in the final 3 minutes of regulation. As a final nail in the coffin, Dionisio followed this up with an and-one of his own and an alley-oop off a Raffy Rebugio lob to run away with the comeback win.
After the game, head coach Jinino Manansala was all smiles as he lauded his guys’ two-way efforts.
“Every pick-and-roll, may switch kami,” he said, referring to his team’s late run. “Doon sila nataranta eh. Ang dami naming steals down the stretch, so nakuha namin ‘yung panalo.”
(We have a switch on every pick-and-roll. That’s where [Perpetual] panicked. We had a lot of steals down the stretch, so we got the win.)
“Sabi ko rin sa mga players ko, ‘yung small things muna ‘yung unahin namin,” he added. “’Tsaka ‘yung respeto, makukuha rin namin ‘yan. Sabi ko, one game at a time.”
(I also told my players that we should prioritize the small things first. We’d gain the respect eventually. I told them, one game at a time.)
Aside from Dionisio’s all-around statline gem, Pare also anchored the Gamboa defense with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds with 3 steals.
Travis Jackson had 11 markers with 5 boards and 2 steals while Bitoon had 10 points with 6 coming in the payoff period.
For the Altas, Rey Peralta registered a team-high 17 points while Peralta followed him up with 13. Three other players scored in double-digits for Perpetual in the losing effort, namely Charcos (12), Eze (11) and Kim Aurin (11).
In the second game, the Wangs-Letran Couriers blew out the JRU Heavy Bombers, 73-55.
Gamboa-St. Clare (78): Dionisio 21, Pare 16, Jackson 11, Bitoon 10, Ambuludto 7, Rebugio 6, Hallare 5, Acuno 2, Alcober 0, Rubio 0, Fontanilla 0
Perpetual (73): Peralta 17, Villanueva 13, Charcos 12, Eze 11, Aurin 11, Coronel 6, Pido 3, Mangalino 0, Tiburcio 0, Precillas 0
Standings (as of Feb. 26, 2018)
Gamboa-St. Clare 3-1
Marinerong Pilipino 4-2
Go For Gold-CSB 4-3