Aris Dionisio happy to take charge as Gamboa Coffee boosts playoff hopes
Aris Dionisio scored a game-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds for Gamboa Coffee. Dante Peralta

WHEN the going got tough, Aris Dionisio got going to lead Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare over Perpetual Help in the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup. 

Facing a 49-61 deficit early in the fourth period against Perpetual, the lanky forward provided the spark on both ends, instigating a 17-4 tear that turned things around for the Coffee Lovers. 

His efforts didn't go for naught as the Coffee Lovers went on to beat Perpetual, 78-73 on Monday at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao. 

But the 6-foot-5  Dionisio played down his role in the comeback win even as he finished with a game-high 21 points along with eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals.

With Gamboa's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, it was only normal for the Coffee Lovers to give it their all as though their lives depended on the outcome of the match.

"Talagang pinaghandaan ko lang yung game kasi sabi ni coach (Jinino Manansala) ito yung pinaka-importanteng game namin para makapasok sa top six," he said.

Gamboa did move up the ranks with a 3-2 record. But there's more to that tally than wins and losses.

The team is also hoping to gain the respect of its counterparts from the UAAP and NCAA, and this victory spoke volumes about the powerhouse NAASCU squad. 

Gamboa's other two victories actually came at the expense of NCAA teams Jose Rizal University and Batangas-EAC.

"Sa pinapakita namin sa D-League ngayon, bagong team kami tapos natatalo namin ilang NCAA teams, yung Adamson nung nakaraan pinahirapan namin, siguro nakuha na rin namin respeto," he said.

"Yun talaga goal namin (makuha respeto ng ibang teams)." 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros