Gamboa-St. Clare eliminates Wangs-Letran from contention in crucial D-League matchup
MANILA, Philippines – In arguably the most important D-League match of the season, the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers eliminated the Wangs-Letran Couriers, 87-76, at the Ynares Sports Arena on Tuesday, March 27.
By way of the Gamboa win, the Zark’s-LPU Jawbreakers also clinched the final playoff spot. Even if Letran wins its last match vs Batangas-EAC and LPU loses against Perpetual, they would still only be tied at 6-5 with Zark’s owning the tiebreaker over Letran. Meanwhile, if Gamboa also drops its last match against AMA, they still own the tiebreaker to both Zark’s and Letran if ever a 3-way scenario at 6-5 occurs.
Gamboa got the early jump on Wangs in the first quarter after a triple by Chris Bitoon, 16-8. Then near the end of the period, what seemed like a manageable 9-point lead ballooned to 13, 26-13, after Trevis Jackson fished a buzzer-beating 4-point play.
The Coffee Lovers maintained their high energy in the second, as Joshua Alcober drove to the hoop to give his team a 20-point advantage, 33-13. The Couriers managed to trim that down to 13 but Joshua Fontanilla negated their efforts with a pull-up trey to put Gamboa back up 16, 47-31. Then later on, for the second straight quarter, Jackson pulled up for the walk-off triple to end the half with a 17-point lead, 52-35.
Changing courts, however, also changed momentum for both teams. To open up the 3rd, Wangs launched a huge 15-2 run on the back of Jeo Ambohot and Bonbon Batiller that cut the Gamboa lead to just 4, 54-50. Jackson then took matters into his own hands and ended the run with another trey for the 57-50 separation. Bong Quinto tried to stop yet another Gamboa run but Jackson was already on auto mode, scoring 5 more points for another double-digit lead, 67-57.
The final frame turned to be a repeat of the 3rd, as the Couriers once again went on a 13-4 tear to nearly tie the game, 74-75, thanks to back-to-back Batiller long bombs. However, that run again came to a screeching halt after Gamboa responded a 9-2 run for the 84-76 lead in the final 1:18 of regulation. Wangs would not score again as Gamboa officially clinched a playoff seed with the victory.
In the other D-League game, the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers maintained their push for an outright semifinals spot after downing the University of Perpetual Help Altas, 78-66.
Gamboa-St. Clare (87) – Jackson 29, Bitoon 22, Pare 12, Dionisio 11, Fontanilla 9, Alcober 2, Hallare 2, Rubio 0, Acuno 0.
Wangs-Letran (76) – Quinto 24, Batiller 23, Balanza 5, Ambohot 5, Calvo 4, Publico 4, Muyang 3, Gedaria 3, Fajarito 3, Taladua 2, Balagasay 0, Yu 0, Mandreza 0
STANDINGS (as of March 26, 2018)
^Marinerong Pilipino 8-2
^Gamboa-St. Clare 6-4 (remaining: vs AMA)
^Zark’s-LPU 6-4 (remaining: vs UPH)
*Wangs-Letran 5-5 (remaining: vs EAC)
*Go For Gold-CSB 4-6
^ - clinched playoffs
* - eliminated from contention