VAL Acuna hit a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left as Tanduay forced a deciding match against twice-to-beat UP QRS-Jam with a 68-66 victory on Thursday in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup quarterfinals at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The winner of the Thursday match will face top seed Café France, which downed Wangs Basketball.
“Dapat lang bumawi siya ang sama ng first half niya eh,” said Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson.
“Sinuklian rin niya ‘yung confidence and trust na binigay ko sa kanya kaya I stuck with him,” he added.
Tanduay trailed by 21 points, 34-13, in the second quarter but a huge third quarter run gave them the lead, 50-48.
The Maroons used a late 9-2 run to retake the lead 66-65, before Acuna bailed out the Rhum Masters.
“We have to crawl back from 19 or 21, ’yun lang, I have to give it to the boys, ’yung resiliency nila ’yung instinct to survive hindi nila kami pinahiya,” said Chongson.
“But still we have not won anything yet we only managed to survive, we only lived one more day wala naman kami naa-achieve pa,” he added.
“What’s there to be nervous about, kumbaga ’yung isang paa namain out the door na eh so might as well just plug all the wholes and give it your best shot.”
MVP frontrunner Raymond Aguilar scored 17 points for UP.
Tanduay 68 - Llagas 13, Javillonar 10, Acuna 9, Celda 7, Belencion 6, Lingganay 6, Santos 6, Tagarda 6, Gotladera 3, Wetherell 2, Belleza 0, Cenal 0, Eriobu 0, Pessumal 0.
UP QRS/Jam 66 - Aguilar 17, Batino 15, Ferrer 13, Alolino 7, Soyud 4, Desiderio 3, Villarias 3, Lim 2, Neypes 1, Sorela 1, Dario 0, Harris 0, Moralde 0, Vito 0.
Quarterscores: 13-26; 23-39; 52-55; 68-66