MANILA, Philippies – The Marinerong Pilipino Skippers braved rough seas and came away with an 86-80 comeback victory over fellow contender Go for Gold-CSB in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Pasig City Sports Center, Tuesday, March 6.
Stellar teamwork was on display for the two contenders early in the first quarter. While CSB climbed to an early 12-point lead, 17-5, the Skippers and their loyal fans rocked back with an 18-3 run to take a 3-point lead at the last second, 23-20, off a corner triple from Kyle Toth.
Go for Gold gave a repeat performance of their first quarter with another crowd-silencing 17-5 run, 37-28, ending with a thunderous Justin Gutang dunk, who flexed right in front of the stunned Marinero supporters. Alvin Pasaol helped cut the lead to 5, 32-37, but got too hyped and stuck his tongue out in the face of Jayjay Alejandro – good enough for a technical foul. At the half, CSB held its ground and led by 6, 43-37.
At the start of the third, Gutang extended the CSB lead back to 10, 47-37. However, the tandem of Rian Ayonayon and Billy Ray Robles combined with the earsplitting support of the Marinero fan base opened the floodgates for a 10-2 run, 47-49. A few possessions later, the Skippers finally regained the lead since 23-20 in the first quarter after a pull-up trey from UST guard Renzo Subido, 55-54. Not to be outdone by his UAAP foe, Alejandro pulled up his own trey after an Edward Dixon bucket to give back CSB a 4-point lead, 59-55. Go for Gold again held steady and maintained this lead until the end of the frame, 66-62.
The Skippers’ momentum and noise levels reached a tipping point in the final frame, after the Ayonayon-Robles tandem once again combined for a lead-taking 10-3 run, 79-73. Ayonayon would continue to dominate on both ends, forcefully yanking the ball from Alejandro and coasted for an easy drive. With about a minute and a half remaining in regulation, Ayonayon pulled up from mid-range and sank the jumper for the 84-77 lead. He would then hustle back on the other end and hit Yankee Haruna with the game-sealing rejection.
Robles made up big time for a 2-point first half by ending with a game-high 18 points. Subido added 16 markers of his own. Ayonayon only scored 9 but he got 4 points, a steal and one of his two blocks in the last two minutes. On the other end, fan favorite veteran Jerwin Gaco had himself a game with a team-high 16 points – 8 coming in the fourth. Matt Salem came through with 14 points, but only hit 3/10 from beyond the arc in the losing effort.
In the other game of the double-header, the Che’lu-SSC Revellers handled the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers, 79-73.
Marinerong Pilipino (86) – Robles 18, Subido 16, Pasaol 13, Banal 12, Ayonayon 8, Toth 6, Tratter 5, Tolentino 2, Lopez 2, Babilonia 2, Terso 1, Inigo 0
Go for Gold-CSB (80) – Gaco 16, Salem 14, Alejandro 11, Gutang 9, Naboa 8, Haruna 7, Dixon 7, Casino 4, Pili 2, Leutcheu 2, Domingo 0
Quarter Scores: 23-20, 37-43, 62-66, 86-60
STANDINGS (as of March 5, 2018)
Marinerong Pilipino 5-2
Gamboa-St. Clare 3-2
Go For Gold-CSB 5-4
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