JEFF Viernes shrugged off a sluggish start as he towed Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian to the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals after sweeping top-seed Akari-Adamson with a come-from-behind win, 93-90, on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Viernes hit the go-ahead basket with 19 seconds to go in the game, a step-back jumper over Egie Boy Mojica, before capping the semifinals sweep with a free throw to complete the comeback win after the Falcons led by as many 19 points in the first quarter.
The basketball journeyman – who recently had a stint in Thailand—made just seven of his 19 shots but still led the Revellers with 17 points to go along seven rebounds and six assists.
“Yun ang inaasahan namin sa mga veterans. Ganoong game na kailangan ng leadership. Kahit anong sama ng laro ni Jeff Viernes, siya pa rin ang nagdala sa dulo,” said Che’Lu coach Stevenson Tiu.
“Alam namin na babalik sila. We have to work per possession. Di mababawi ng isang iglap lang. Maganda rin, napababa ng single digits noong halftime,” he added.
Allyn Bulanadi came off the bench to score 16 points while Game 1 hero Cedric Ablaza added 15 and eight boards. Michael Calisaan made six of his nine shots to finish with 14.
The win spoiled the big game of Sean Manganti who finished with 29 points, six rebounds and three steals. Jonathan Espeleta added 12 as Jerrick Ahanmisi and Papi Sarr struggled from the field anew, combining to shoot 5-20.
Ahanmisi finished with 11 as Sarr contributed 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Che’Lu now awaits the winner between Zarks Burger – Lyceum and Marinerong Pilipino which is being played as of press time. The Jawbreakers lead the series, 1-0.
CHE’LU BAR AND GRILL-SAN SEBASTIAN 93 — Viernes 17, Bulanadi 16, Ablaza 15, Calisaan 14, Ilagan 7, Siruma 7, Batino 5, David 5, Faundo 3, De Leon 2, Taganas 2, Collado 0, Costelo 0.
AKARI-ADAMSON 90 — Manganti 29, Espeleta 12, Ahanmisi 11, Sarr 10, Pingoy 9, Camacho 6, Mojica 5, Bernardo 4, Lastimosa 4, Buenaventura 0, Longalong 0.
Quarters: 18-31, 50-56, 73-73, 93-90.