Akari-Adamson survives late JRU rally to secure top seed and march straight to D-League semis
Jerome Lastimosa took charge late to help Akari-Adamson douse JRU's rally from 24 points down. Dante Peralta

AKARI-ADAMSON secured the top seed and the outright semifinal berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup after defeating Jose Rizal University, 71-64, on Thursday at the Ynares Sport Arena in Pasig City.

Akari finished the elimination round with a 9-2 to tie Marinerong Pilipino in the standings but the Falcons get the No. 1 seed after beating the Skippers in the elimination round.

The top two teams at the end of the elimination round advance to the semis outright.

Sean Manganti had 15 points, while Papi Sarr had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Falcons, who also averted a meltdown as a loss would have dropped them to third place.

Akari led by as many as 24 points but its lead dropped to three in the fourth before Jerome Lastimosa, who finished the game with 11 points, scored seven markers late to finish off the Heavy Bombers.

“That’s the hardest part, a team playing with no pressure at all,” said Akari-Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. “You have to give it to JRU, they played well. At the start of the third quarter, I experimented with the new guys to do their own thing and it almost cost us the game.”

Jeckster Apinan led a JRU comeback bid, finishing with 17 points including all the points in a 7-0 blast to cut the deficit to 58-55.

Akari will play the winner of the Che’Lu Bar and Grill-Gamboa Coffee Mix quarterfinal series which will begin on Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

Marinerong Pilipino will battle the winner between No. 3 Centro Escolar University and No. 6 Zark’s-Lyceum that will also start on Tuesday.

CEU and Che’Lu hold the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

The scores:

Akari-Adamson 71 - Manganti 15, Sarr 13, Lastimosa 11, Ahanmisi 7, Camacho 7, Catapusan 6, Espeleta 5, Pingoy 5, Bernardo 2, Saldivar 0, Macion 0, Buenaventura 0, Mojica 0.

JRU 64 - Apinan 17, Pontejos 10, De Guzman 9, Porter 9, Mendoza 6, Grospe 5, Dela Virgen 4, Perez 2, Esguerra 2, Yu 0, Silvarez 0, Bordon 0.

Quarterscores: 22-20; 46-27; 56-47; 71-64.

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