PBA D-League

San Beda ties D-League semis vs underdog CEU; La Salle rolls to 3rd straight finals

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

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San Beda ties D-League semis vs underdog CEU; La Salle rolls to 3rd straight finals

DOMINANT ANEW. San Beda's Yukien Andrada and La Salle's Michael Phillips in action in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup

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San Beda climbs out of a surprising 0-1 hole in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup semifinals against underdog CEU, while almighty La Salle blasts St. Clare by 35 to book another finals trip

MANILA, Philippines – After two straight losses to CEU, San Beda finally solved the Scorpions’ puzzle.

Banking on a solid start, the Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda survived CEU’s late surge to escape with an 84-76 win and force a do-or-die Game 3 in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup on Tuesday, April 30, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

“Finally, a win,” said Red Lions’ head coach Yuri Escueta, whose team lost against the Scorpions in their first two meetings, including Game 1 of the semifinal series.

“I told the boys, just one win. Let’s just make us believe that we can beat them. I just challenged them to play better,” Escueta added.

San Beda led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, but the Scorpions pulled within two, 66-68, in the fourth quarter after a Franz Diaz trey.

The Red Lions, however, answered with a 12-3 finishing burst to ward off the remaining fight at CEU.

“Playing in this kind of close games is a good challenge for us. These games test our composure and mental toughness,” Escueta said. “I want everyone to handle this kind of pressure.”

Yukien Andrada had 14 points for San Beda, filling in the absence of NCAA Season 99 Finals MVP James Payosing who, Escueta said, sprained his foot in practice.

Diaz led CEU with 22 points, while Daniel Marcelo added 17. Meanwhile, the Scorpions’ foreign-student athlete Abdul-Wahab Olusesi was held to just 9 points.

“This import is a Class A import. He is like Malick Diouf when I first saw him play,” said Escueta on Olusesi’s impact on the reigning UCAL champions CEU. “This import is one of a kind.”

“Of course, they have good locals also in Marcelo, Diaz, (Jerome) Santos, so it’s not surprising that they’re a championship team,” he added.

The Eco-Oil La Salle Green Archers finished off Go Torrakku-St. Clare College, 105-70, to advance to their third straight D-League finals.

It will be La Salle’s second consecutive title defense after winning the 2022 and 2023 Aspirants’ Cups.

In all their seven games this season, La Salle won by double digits, dominating the competition every time they stepped foot on the court, but for La Salle assistant coach Gian Nazario, it is all business as usual.

“It’s (the finals) where we want to be but there are still games to be played,” he said.

Henry Agunanne scored 17 points along with 10 rebounds, while Matthew Rubico contributed 14 markers to lead La Salle to the series sweep.

La Salle will face the winner of Thursday’s San Beda-CEU decider for this season Aspirants’ Cup title.

The Scores

First Game

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda 84: Andrada 14, Tagle 13, Sajonia 10, Puno 9, Calimag Jr., 8, Estacio 8, Celzo 5, Royo 5, Calimag RC 4, Songcuya 4, Tagala 2, Gonzales 2, Jalbuena 0.

CEU 76: Diaz 22, Marcelo 17, Olusesi 9, Bernabe 9, Puray 7, Santos 5, Gamboa 5, Serrano 2, Darbin 0, Malicana 0, Mendoza 0.

Quarters: 27-19, 58-38, 66-53, 84-76

Second Game

EcoOil-La Salle 105: Agunanne 17, Rubico 14, Abadam 11, Austria 11, Cortez 10, Policarpio 9, Phillips 8, Alian 6, Macalalag 5, David 5, Gollena 5, Buensalida 4, Romero 0.

Go Torakku-St. Clare 70: Ndong 18, Galang 15, Russel 5, Estacio 5, De Guzman 5, Burgos 4, Sual 4, Tapenio 3, Decano 3, Acosta 3, Cabauatan 3, Yu 2, Manzano 0.

Quarters: 20-18, 47-29, 72-49, 105-70

– Rappler.com

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