GAB Banal made instant impact in his return for Go for Gold-CSB to pull off a gritty 84-81 nail-biter over Centro Escolar University to stay alive in the 2019 PBA D-League quarterfinals Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The veteran forward buried the marginal three-pointer with 17.5 seconds remaining as the Scratchers averted a 20-point collapse and force a do-or-die Game Two on Thursday.
"I'm happy that we're still alive, but we probably deserve to lose that game. We were up big and seems like we never learn. The maturity is still isn't there," rued coach Charles Tiu.
Go for Gold-CSB bucked a slow start as they went on a rampage in the first half to grab a lead as big as 20 numerous times in the third frame.
But Rich Guinitaran and Judel Fuentes willed CEU back, tying the game at 81 with 2:06 left to set up the thrilling finish.
Banal's three did give the Scratchers a huge sigh of relief before Jimboy Pasturan stole the ball from Keanu Caballero as time expired.
Banal wound up with 12 points, six assists, and five rebounds to play the role of the unassuming hero for Go for Gold-CSB.
Roosevelt Adams topscored for the Scratchers with 26 points and 13 rebounds, as new recruit Santi Santillan also did damage with his 15 points and six boards. Justin Gutang chipped in 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in the win.
CEU could not utilize its twice-to-beat advantage despite Fuentes pouring 10 of his team-high 22 in the fourth frame.
Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf corralled 14 points, 17 boards, six assists, four steals, and three blocks, while Guinitaran had 10 of his 13 come in the third frame.
GO FOR GOLD-CSB 84 -- Adams 26, Santillan 15, Gutang 13, Banal 12, Leutcheu 8, Nayve 5, Pasturan 2, Dixon 2, Carlos 1, Naboa 0.
CEU 81 -- Fuentes 22, Diouf 14, Guinitaran 13, Uri 9, Rojas 6, Caballero 4, Formento 4, Sunga 2, Lisbo 2, Chan 2, Santos 2, Diaz 1, Intic 0.
Quarters: 26-21, 50-35, 73-61, 84-81.