Ilagan’s clutch rally completes Che’Lu comeback vs Gamboa to qualify for semis
MANILA, Philippines – The twice-to-beat Che’lu San Sebastian College Revellers staged an 80-72 comeback victory to eliminate the 5th-seeded Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers at the kick-off of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup playoffs on Tuesday, April 10.
With the win, Che’lu now moves on to face the first-seeded Akari-Adamson Falcons, who clinched the top spot and outright semis berth after their final regular-season win against JRU.
Jeff Viernes returned from a pro ball stint in Thailand to lead Che’lu with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench. Kent Ilagan made up for a dismal first 3 quarters and led the Revellers’ comeback with an 8-point rally in the clutch to end with 10 points and 9 boards.
However, it was the do-or-die Gamboa who led for a majority of the game. Chris Bitoon made that happen with a red-hot 8-0 personal run in the first quarter to lead Gamboa at 10-4. He ended the period with 12 points as his team led 27-16.
Bitoon drained another triple early in the second for the 34-26 lead, but Che’lu slowly chipped away with Viernes at the helm. Four different players scored in a quarter-ending 8-0 run as Gamboa clung to a 3-point lead at the half, 40-37.
The Coffee Lovers again extended to a small 52-45 lead, but Samboy De Leon erased that with back-to-back fastbreak layups to inch within 3 once more, 49-52. Gamboa ended the 3rd 56-52 off two foul shots from speedy reserve Joshua Fontanilla.
At the payoff period, De Leon sank a corner triple to tie the game at 58 for the first time since the opening quarter. This would spark a 13-3 run that included back-to-back long bombs and a putback lay-in from Ilagan. All of a sudden, Che’lu held a 66-60 lead in the last 4 minutes and never looked back. Fontanilla and Mohammad Pare tried to mount a comeback, but former AMA big man Jay-R Taganas bullied down low for an and-one to seal the deal.
Five players scored in double-figures for Gamboa’s last stand, led by Bitoon who ended with 19 points after a blazing first quarter. Meanwhile, Pare anchored the team on both ends with 12 points and a game-high 16 boards for the double-double finish.
Che’lu-SSC (80) – Viernes 22, Ilagan 10, De Leon 9, Ablaza 9, Bulanadi 7, Costelo 6, Batino 6, Taganas 5, Collado 4, Faundo 2
Gamboa-St. Clare (72) – Bitoon 19, Fontanilla 13, Pare 12, Dionisio 12, Jackson 11, Rubio 5, Hallare 0
Quarter Scores: 16-27, 37-40, 52-56, 80-72.
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As an added bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.