ADALEM-St. Clare weathered a late Builders Warehouse-UST fightback in the final 4:36 to fashion out a 90-87 victory and secure the remaining semifinals berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Saints were ahead, 80-69, on a John Rojas lay-up when the Growling Tigers made a last-ditch stand, cutting down the deficit to three after Kean Baclaan scored on a drive with 17 seconds remaining.
After a Adalem-St. Clare committed a turnover on the next possession, Builders Warehouse-UST tried to send the game into overtime but Baclaan misfired on his desparation heave in the dwinding seconds.
It was a disappointing end to the Growling Tigers’ run after a 0-4 start, but Saints coach Jinino Manansala, who handled the España-based squad in the UAAP this year, praised their foes for keeping their composure despite being down by double-digits.
“Hat’s off to UST. I know they will play hard this game. They know how to win already,” said Manansala.
“Kami naman, yung mga veterans like Joshua (Fontanilla) and (John) Rojas, I told them noong halftime sabi ko they have to perform kasi UST is on a roll. Kaya nakita ninyo yung game, salitan kami. Lumayo kami, ang problema, we relaxed at dumikit yung laban,” he added.
Adalem-St. Clare, the No. 3 team, will face second-ranked EcoOil-La Salle in the best-of-three semifinals starting at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Big Dome.
The other semis pairing pits top-ranked Apex Fuel-San Sebastian and No. 4 Marinerong Pilipino which also begins tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Pangasinan native Johnsherick Estrada paced the Saints with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists, Jolo Sumagaysay had 14 points while Fontanilla, Rojas and Gab Gamboa each scored 12 points.
Senegal’s Babacar Ndong was also huge for Adalem-St. Clare with a double-double outing of 10 points and game-high 14 rebounds.
Nic Cabañero took the scoring mantle for the Growling Tigers with 19 points to go with six rebounds, three steals and two assists while Baclaan, who dropped 35 points last Friday, finished with 17 points.
Sherwin Concepcion added 15 points and seven boards while Migs Pangilinan and Bryan Santos were the other Builders Warehouse-UST players in twin digits with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Christian Manaytay’s lay-up gave the Growling Tigers a 14-12 lead when the Saints unloaded a 12-0 run in the final 3:56 of the opening period capped by Gelo Sablan’s back-to-back baskets to build a 24-14 advantage.
Builders Warehouse-UST was able to close in on Adalem-St. Clare, cutting down the deficit to 35-37 on a Migs Pangilinan triple just before halftime.
Adalem-St. Clare (90) — Estrada 20, Sumagaysay 14, Fontanilla 12, Gamboa 12, Rojas 12, Ndong 10, Lopez 6, Sablan 4, Estacio 0.
Builders-UST (87) — Cabañero 19, Baclaan 17, Concepcion 15, M. Pangilinan 13, Santos 12, Mantua 5, Manalang 4, Manaytay 2, Crisostomo 0, Herrera 0.
Quarterscores: 24-14, 37-35, 59-57, 90-87.