PBA D-League

St. Clare ends UST Cinderella run, clinches D-League semis tiff with La Salle

JR Isaga
St. Clare ends UST Cinderella run, clinches D-League semis tiff with La Salle

NAASCU rookie-MVP Jimboy Estrada leads St. Clare to the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup semifinals

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St. Clare and UST end a tightly contested PBA D-League match trilogy with the Jimboy Estrada-led Saints besting the Growling Tigers for a spot at the Aspirants' Cup semifinals

MANILA, Philippines – Adalem Construction-St. Clare booked the final 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals ticket after ending Builders Warehouse-UST’s Cinderella run, 90-87, at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, August 10.

After earning an 87-86 escape in the eliminations and absorbing a 93-98 loss in the first quarterfinals game, the Saints ended their thrilling trilogy against the Growling Tigers thanks to a balanced scoring run led by Jimboy Estrada’s 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

Jolo Sumagaysay backstopped the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) rookie MVP with 14 points in just 11 minutes off the bench, while Gab Gamboa, John Rojas, and veteran guard Joshua Fontanilla scored 12 apiece.

With the win, St. Clare advanced to the best-of-three semifinals against the loaded EcoOil-La Salle Green Archers featuring Gilas Pilipinas forward Kevin Quiambao and UAAP Mythical Team member Michael Phillips.

As was the case in their last two meetings, St. Clare and UST kept it close until the fourth quarter, where the Tigers led 63-61 with 8:27 left. However, the Saints dictated the endgame tempo with a 13-2 rally ending with a Gamboa layup at the 6:39 mark.

St. Clare looked like it had the game sealed with an 88-76 lead in the final 1:56, but UST fought back one last time with an 11-2 spurt to get within 3, 87-90, before capping the run by forcing a 5-second violation on the Saints with 15 ticks left.

Rookie revelation Kean Baclaan had one last look to tie the game at the buzzer, but his shot clanked off as St. Clare averted a crunch-time meltdown.

“Hats off to UST. I know they will play hard and they know how to win already,” said Saints head coach Jinino Manansala, who last handled the Tigers before his spot was given to interim Ato Alocillo and incoming coach Bal David.

“As for us, we just told our players that we have to perform this time.”

All five UST starters scored in double figures, led by Nic Cabanero’s 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Baclaan scored 17 with 5 assists and 4 rebounds, while sniper Sherwin Concepcion added 15 points and 7 boards.

Over at the other semis bracket, Juan Gomez de Liaño and the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers will take on surprise top seed APEX Fuel-San Sebastian.

The Scores

Adalem-St. Clare 90 – Estrada 20, Sumagaysay 14, Fontanilla 12, Gamboa 12, Rojas 12, Ndong 10, Lopez 6, Sablan 4, Estacio 0.

Builders Warehouse-UST 87 – Cabanero 19, Baclaan 17, Concepcion 15, M. Pangilinan 13, Santos 12, Mantua 5, Manalang 4, Manaytay 2, Crisostomo 0, Herrera 0.

Quarters: 24-14, 37-35, 59-57, 90-87.

– Rappler.com

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