MARINERONG Pilipino gutted out a 72-67 victory over EcoOil-La Salle to draw first blood in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Finals on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Juan Gomez de Liano took over in the final three minutes of the game, scoring six of his nine points, to go with his 14 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals as the Skippers took Game One of the best-of-three series.
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"Honestly, I just wanted to win, wanted to be a good example and role model to my teammates," said De Liano, frontrunner for the Conference MVP award.
Gomez de Liano's tough drive over Michael Phillips in the last 13.9 seconds gave Marinerong Pilipino a 68-64 lead, but Evan Nelle refused to let La Salle quit, draining a trey with 8.3 ticks left.
Jollo Go extended the Skippers lead back to three with a pair of freebies in the last 6.7, but Nelle could not tie the game as he missed his left corner three that led to Arvin Gamboa icing the game at the free throw line.
Adrian Nocum paced Marinerong Pilipino with 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists, Go nailed three treys for his 15 points, eight boards, and three dimes, and Gamboa added 14 points and six rebounds in the win.
The Skippers can close the best-of-three championship series out on Wednesday.
Adrian Nocum notches 22 points to lead all scorers.
Schonny Winston led La Salle with 21 points, but was held to just a pair in the final period.
CJ Austria scored 15 points, as Michael Phillips had seven points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Kevin Quiambao struggled in the game and shot a measly 3-of-14 clip from the field, on top of his six boards and three assists as he was the missing link for the Green Archers.
Marinerong Pilipino 72 - Nocum 22, Go 15, Gamboa 14, Gomez de Liano 9, Bonifacio 5, Pido 4, Manlangit 3, Carino 0, Soberano 0, Hernandez 0, Garcia 0.
EcoOil-La Salle 67 - Winston 21, Austria 15, Quiambao 9, Nelle 8, M. Phillips 7, Estacio 4, B. Phillips 3, Manuel 0, Cortez 0, Escandor 0, Buensalida 0.
Quarterscores: 21-12; 33-23; 51-52; 72-67.