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Juan, Skippers near D-League crown

Juan Gomez de Liaño displayed his Most Valuable Player form as he powered Marinerong Pilipino to a thrilling 72-67 win over EcoOil-La Salle in Game 1 of their 2022 Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants Cup best-of-three title series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Silenced all game long, the University of the Philippines guard uncorked six of the Skippers’ last 10 points, including a dagger with 13.9 seconds left to secure a 68-64 lead.

Evan Nelle kept the Green Archers afloat with a three-pointer in the ensuing possession, but Jollo Go and Arvin Gamboa converted their free throws to put the game away.

“We just followed our team mindset and we prepared so hard for this game,” said Gomez de Liaño, the frontrunner in the MVP derby who only had nine points but did everything else with 14 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.

“I just wanted to be a good example and role model to my teammates.”
Adrian Nocum stepped up with 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists, Go scored three triples for 15 points, eight rebounds, and three dimes, and Gamboa knocked down 14 points and six rebounds for Marinerong Pilipino, which moved a win away from bagging the elusive crown after emerging as bridesmaid in the 2019 Foundation Cup.

The Skippers can seal the deal on Wednesday at the same venue.

Schonny Winston paced EcoOil-La Salle with 21 points but was limited to just two in the payoff period while CJ Austria added 15 and Michael Phillips registered seven points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Kevin Quiambao also struggled with a dismal his 3-of-14 field goal shooting to finish with just nine points, six boards, and three assists.

The Scores:

Marinerong Pilipino (72) — Nocum 22, Go 15, Gamboa 14, Gomez de Liaño 9, Bonifacio 5, Pido 4, Manlangit 3, Carino 0, Soberano 0, Hernandez 0, Garcia 0.

EcoOil-La Salle (67) — Winston 21, Austria 15, Quiambao 9, Nelle 8, M. Phillips 7, Estacio 4, B. Phillips 3, Manuel 0, Cortez 0, Escandor 0, Buensalida 0.

Quarters: 21-12, 33-23, 51-52, 72-67.

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