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MANILA, Philippines – Paul Desiderio delivered his best game yet as Go for Gold completed an incredible comeback to take a 2-1 advantage in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals.
Desiderio took over in the final stretch to power the Scratchers to a thrilling 98-96 victory over Che’Lu Bar and Grill in Game 3 of the best-of-five title series on Thursday, August 16, at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
After draining two huge triples going into the final minute, the University of the Philippines standout nailed the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds left.
“I rode with Paul. I said, ‘Bahala ka (It’s up to you). Get the ball, do whatever you want, just take us home,’ and he did,” said coach Charles Tiu.
Desiderio dropped 22 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Scratchers, who clawed their way back from a 16-point deficit, 62-46 in the 3rd period.
Gab Banal chipped in 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Vince Tolentino had 10 points to help the Scratchers move within a win of a crown.
Go for Gold goes for the jugular on Game 4 on Tuesday, August 21.
Down 71-80, the Scratchers unleashed a 24-11 blast to grab a 95-91 lead with 26.3 seconds remaining after Desiderio’s second trey.
Jeff Viernes, though, scored on a quick two on the other end, and after a Jai Reyes split from the line, Chris Bitoon managed to knot the score anew with an and-one play off a Desiderio foul with 14.7 seconds left on the clock.
But the Cebuano could not let his team down, making his move with five seconds left that sent the Scratchers to their feet.
“You have to give credit to the players, all the credit to the players. The only thing I told them at halftime is it’s a championship game,” said Tiu. “You say you want to win but the effor was lacking. They were outplaying us and we couldn’t make shots. But in the second half, we said that as long as you play defense, you’ll start winning. The guys just made plays.”
Viernes topped Che’Lu with 23 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds in the heartbreaker, while Hernandez and Bitoon scored 17 points apiece.
Go for Gold 98 – Desiderio 28, Banal 11, Tolentino 10, Publico 9, Reyes 9, Dennison 8, wong 8, Porter 7, Salem 5, Canada 3, Gaco 0.
Che’lu Bar and Grill 96 – Viernes 23, Bitoon 17, Hernandez 17, Collado 12, Melano 11, Taganas 5, De Joya 4, Siruma 3, Ochea 2, Sta. Ana 0.
Quarters: 22-21, 38-52, 63-71, 98-96.