TANDUAY coach Lawrence Chongson had nothing but praise for ace guard Gelo Alolino after he led the Rhum Masters past Racal, 88-86, in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals on Thursday at the Strike Gym here.
Alolino caught fire and scattered 26 points, including the game-winning layup in the waning seconds of the victory that forced a do-or-die match on Tuesday.
"Siya yung glue ng team na ito," said Chongson of his prized ward out of National University, who also had four rebounds and four assists.
"Kung hindi lang mag-PBA 'yan, kung pwede lang hanggang maubos playing years niya, sa akin siya maglaro. Yung tiwala ko sa kanya talagang nandoon and he didn't fail me today," he added.
The Tanduay cager out from Las Pinas was happy to please his mentor, but was quick to deflect credit and instead pinned the win on his team's collective effort.
"Sabi ko kanina bibigay ko lang best ko kasi do-or-die to," said the 6-foot-1 Alolino. "Collective team effort to. Maganda rin set-up sakin ng mga teammates ko kaya nakapag-deliver ako."
Still, the Rhum Masters are saving the celebration for later because the series is far from over, and Alolino hopes the team is ready for a strong bounce back effort from the top-seeded Racal squad.
"Right now masaya kami. Pero alam namin capability ng Racal, No. 1 team yan e," said Alolino.
Chongson agreed, but remained confident knowing his team does better when their backs are against the wall.
"Sa mga larong wala nang bukas, doon kami umaahon," he said.