ADALEM Construction-St. Clare doused cold water on Apex Fuel-San Sebastian’s sizzling run, scoring an 80-66 victory on Tuesday to clinch the No. 3 spot in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup playoffs at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Up by just a point at the break, the Saints unleashed a searing third-quarter barrage to take command, finishing the eliminations with a 4-3 card.
John Edcel Rojas led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists as Adalem-St. Clare in the process secured a twice-to-beat advantage at the upper half of the quarterfinals bracket.
NAASCU MVP Johnsherick Estrada threw in help with 19 points, all in the second half, while veteran Joshua Fontanilla added 14 points, four dimes, and four steals as St. Clare stopped San Sebastian’s five-game run.
“Simula pa lang alam ko na win or go home kami. Kung manalo kami, No. 3. Pero kung matalo, 99.9 percent na maa-out kami. Sabi ko lang sa mga bata, naglalaro sila nang maayos pero ’di lang maka-finish nang maganda,” said coach Jinino Mansansala.
“We know we have to go all out and this time, nakuha namin. Ngayon, maganda na napuntahan namin at twice-to-beat.”
Johnsherick Estrada and the Saints end the eliminations with a 4-3 win-loss record.
Led by Rojas, Estrada and Fontanilla, the Saints found their groove in the third quarter and turned a slim 36-35 halftime cushion to a comfortable 60-51 upperhand, which they even ballooned to the biggest lead at 77-61 heading home.
The Saints followed Marinerong Pilipino as the only teams to beat Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, which has become a revelation this conference in clinching the No. 1 seed and an outright semifinal berth.
Romel Calahat and Jessie Sumoda had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Golden Stags, who finished the eliminations at 5-2.
Adalem-St. Clare 80 - Rojas 20, Estrada 19, Fontanilla 14, Gamboa 8, Estacio 7, Sumagaysay 6, Ndong 2, Manacho 2, Lopez 2, Galang 0, Sablan 0.
Apex Fuel – San Sebastian 66 - Calahat 19, Sumoda 14, Altamirano 7, Are 6, Yambing 5, Shanoda 4, Desoyo 4, Felebrico 4, Garcia 3, Escobido 0, Cosari 0, Paglinawan 0.
Quarterscores: 12-15; 36-35; 60-51; 80-66.
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