MANILA, Philippines -- Adalem Construction-St. Clare ended Apex Fuel-San Sebastian's winning streak in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup, coming away with an 80-66 triumph on Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
With the victory, the Saints secured the No. 3 spot in the playoffs. By finishing in the upper half of the quarterfinals bracket, St. Clare will have a twice-to-beat advantage against their opponents.
After leading 36-35 at halftime, St. Clare took charge in the third quarter to seize control of the game en route to their fourth win against three losses in the tournaments.
John Edcel Rojas led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists. NAASCU MVP Johnsherick Estrada scored all 19 of his points in the second half, while veteran Joshua Fontanilla added 14 points, four dimes, and four steals.
St. Clare stopped San Sebastian's five-game winning streak.
"Simula pa lang, alam ko na win or go home kami. Kung manalo kami, No. 3. Pero kung matalo, 99.9% na maa-out kami. Sabi ko lang sa mga bata, naglalaro sila nang maayos pero ‘di lang maka-finish nang maganda," said coach Jinino Mansansala.
"We know we have to go all out and this time, nakuha namin. Ngayon, maganda na napuntahan namin at twice-to-beat," he added.
The trio of Rojas, Estrada and Fontanilla helped the Saints take a comfortable 60-51 lead entering the payoff period. They led by as much as 16 points, 77-61, in the fourth frame.
The Saints followed Marinerong Pilipino as the only teams to beat Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, which has become a revelation this conference in clinching the No. 1 seed and an outright semifinal berth over a bevy of top contenders.
Romel Calahat and Jessie Sumoda had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Golden Stags, who finished the eliminations at 5-2.
ADALEM-ST. CLARE 80 -- Rojas 20, Estrada 19, Fontanilla 14, Gamboa 8, Estacio 7, Sumagaysay 6, Ndong 2, Manacho 2, Lopez 2, Galang 0, Sablan 0.
APEX FUEL-SAN SEBASTIAN 66 -- Calahat 19, Sumoda 14, Altamirano 7, Are 6, Yambing 5, Shanoda 4, Desoyo 4, Felebrico 4, Garcia 3, Escobido 0, Cosari 0, Paglinawan 0.
Quarters: 12-15, 36-35, 60-51, 80-66.