ST. Clare College-Virtual Reality denied the late fourth-quarter comeback of Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College to eke out an 80-73 victory for the share of the Aspirants group lead in the PBA D-League on Monday at Paco Arena
Junjie Hallare delivered the finishing touches that turned back the Generals and finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds on top of three steals to keep the Saints unbeaten in three games while sharing the Aspirants group top place with idle University of Santo Tomas.
Irven Palencia was also instrumental with 15 points as well as Joshua Fontanilla chipping in 14 markers, five assists, four steals and as many as rebounds and Mohamed Pare adding nine points and 15 boards including two blocks.
"Nireremind ko lang yung players ko every practice to just give their best. Lalabas yung pinaghirapan natin," said St.Clare-Virtual Reality head coach Jinino Manansala.
St. Clare nearly squandered its 19-point margin in the third quarter and a 69-54 margin in the payoff period as Marvin Taywan and John Paul Magullano leading the 13-3 run capped by Kenneth Corilla’s floater to trim the lead to just five, 72-67, with 2:54 to play.
Earvin Mendoza’s split freethrows and triple kept the Generals within five, 76-71, in the last two minutes but Hallare converted the lob pass from Fontanilla and nailed his two crucial freethrows for an 80-71 breather that put the game away with 45 seconds to go.
"Expected ko naman dahil itong mga batang 'to, 'pag lumalamang ng malaki, nagrerelax. Pero sabi ko lang sa kanila na 'wag tayong ma-rattle," Manansala added.
St. Clare bucked a lethargic start erasing a 7-14 first quarter deficit, Batangas-EAC’s buggest scoring run, through 18 straight unanswered points for a 25-14 turnaround and took control for the rest of the match.
Marvin Taywan led the Generals with 18 points, fives assists and four steals. Mendoza scored 16 from three triples, while Dela Pe?a added 13 markers as Batangas-EAC suffered back-to-back losses with a 1-3 card.
St. Clare 80 -- Hallare 18, Palencia 15, Fontanilla 14, Pare 9, Ambuludto 7, Lunor 5, Rivera 3, Fuentes 3, Santos 3, Rubio 2, De Leon 1.
Batangas-EAC 73 -- Taywan 18, E. Mendoza 16, Dela Pena 13, Maguliano 9, Robin 5, Martin 4, Derige 2, Corilla 2, Cadua 2, Carlos 2, Estacio 0, J. Mendoza 0, Oppong 0, Boffa 0, Amogues 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 34-27, 59-44, 80-73.