Tanduay completes Aspirants Cup semis cast with squeaker over AMA Online
Mark Cruz scores 23 points to power Tanduay past AMA. Dante Peralta

TANDUAY booked the last semifinal seat after fending off AMA Online Education on Thursday, 80-76 in the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Mark Cruz led the Rhum Masters anew with 23 points, while Jerwin Gaco had 16 points.

The Rhum Masters will face top-seeded Cignal-San Beda on March 21.

"AMA refused to lose when their season is on the line. But in the end my boys managed to squeeze it out," said Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson.

The Titans had a chance to tie the game but Mario Bonleon missed a three-pointer in transition.

Signed by AMA just last Wednesday, John Tambeling made an instant impact and erupted with 27 points.

Jason Riley scored 12 markers, while AMA star Jeron Teng had an underwhelming outing with conference-low six points to go with the same number of rebounds and assists.

The scores:

Tanduay 80 - Cruz 23, Gaco 16, Eguilos 9, Quinto 9, Sanga 6, Varilla 5, Alvarez 4, Santos 4, Palma 2, Villamor 2, Cenal 0, Stevens 0.

AMA 76 - Tambeling 27, Riley 12, Bonleon 9, Taganas 7, Teng 6, Olayon 6, Arambulo 4, Alabanza 3, Bragais 2, Barua 0, Macaranas 0.

Quarterscores: 25-16; 46-39; 68-62; 80-76.

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