MANILA, Philippines – Sean Manganti finished what Jonathan Espeleta started, and Akari-Adamson University held off Go for Gold, 98-92, in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.
It was a bounce-back win for Akari-Adamson, who were coming off a close loss to Zark's Burger-Lyceum of the Philippines University in their previous contest.
Espeleta, an incoming third-year forward, was on fire to open the game, as he scored 19 of his 24 points in the very first quarter.
That gave the Soaring Falcons control of the contest, and they led by as much as 25 points, 69-44, late in the third quarter.
But Go for Gold refused to give up easily, and J-Jay Alejandro cut the lead to just six points, 86-80, in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Scratchers, they had no answer for Manganti, who had eight of his 14 points in the final period to help the Falcons secure the win.
"We're in the process of experimenting," said coach Franz Pumaren, who appeared unbothered at how his squad lost grip of a comfortable lead.
"We have six new guys in our team, and we're trying to make sure that they all get minutes," he explained. "That's why we're here, so that we can explore what the players are capable of doing and preparing us for the bigger leagues."
Kurt Lojera added 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Jerom Lastimosa got 12 for the Falcons, which improved to 2-1.
Go for Gold suffered its second consecutive loss to drop down to a 1-2 card.
Alejandro went berserk late, firing 19 points on a 5-of-7 three-point shooting in the Scratchers' belated comeback bid.
Matt Salem missed out on a double-double with his 15 markers, nine rebounds, and four assists.
AKARI-ADAMSON 98 — Espeleta 24, Manganti 14, Lojera 13, Lastimosa 12, Ahanmisi 11, Sarr 10, Catapusan 4, Buenaventura 3, Bernardo 2, Hill 2, Macion 2, Mojica 1, Camacho 0, Longalong 0.
GO FOR GOLD 92 — Alejandro 19, Salem 15, Dixon 12, Gutang 12, Casiño 9, Domingo 6, Gaco 6, Leutcheu 6, Pasturan 3, Naboa 2, Pili 2, Young 0.
Quarter scores: 32-18, 56-40, 74-60, 98-92.
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