MANILA, Philippines -- Marinerong Pilipino and EcoOil-La Salle set up a title clash in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup, after contrasting victories in do-or-die games on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Juan Gomez de Liaño took charge down the stretch to power Marinerong Pilipino to a 69-64 win over top seed Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, while La Salle cruised to a comfortable 97-74 victory over Adalem Construction-St. Clare.
Gomez de Liaño scored eight points in the final 3:01 of the game, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers then converting a clutch layup with 52.4 seconds left for a 66-62 lead for the Skippers.
Arvin Gamboa put the game away, with his layup in the final 12.5 seconds securing Marinerong Pilipino's second Finals appearance.
"It was really all about our team mindset," said Gomez de Liano, who led the Skippers with 23 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the clincher. "We just had the right mindset coming into this do-or-die game."
The Skippers also drew solid games from guards AC Soberano, who had 14 points from two treys off the bench, and Jollo Go, who scored 11 in the clincher.
Meanwhile, La Salle's CJ Austria scored 19 of his 26 points in the first half to power the Green Archers to a 52-40 lead. They never looked back, leading by as much as 27 points, 75-48, in the third quarter.
Austria added five rebounds and three assists.
"I'm really happy and satisfied with the way we played. The boys just played really hard today and the things we were supposed to do last time around, we did it right today," said coach Derick Pumaren.
Kevin Quiambao also produced 16 points, four boards, two dimes, and two steals, and Michael Phillips tallied a double-double of 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, five blocks, and four steals to help Austria's cause for the Green Archers.
Marinerong Pilipino earned a chance at redemption, having finished as runners-up to BRT Sumisip-St. Clare back in the 2019 Foundation Cup.
On the other hand, Pumaren is also craving for success as he made his second PBA D-League finals stint after coaching Centro Escolar University to a bridesmaid finish in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup, losing to Cignal-Ateneo in four games
The best-of-three finals start on Sunday.
EcoOil-La Salle 97 -- Austria 26, Quiambao 16, M. Phillips 14, Nelle 7, Winston 7, Escandor 7, Nwankwo 5, Buensalida 4, Estacio 3, Blanco 3, Cortez 3, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 0.
Adalem-St. Clare 74 -- Rojas 17, Fontanilla 16, Sablan 12, Estrada 10, Ndong 8, Estacio 4, Sumagaysay 4, Galang 3, Lopez 0, Gamboa 0, Manacho 0.
Quarters: 22-20, 52-40, 78-54, 97-74.
Marinerong Pilipino 69 -- Gomez de Liano 23, Soberano 14, Go 11, Bonifacio 7, Carino 6, Nocum 4, Gamboa 3, Manlangit 1, Pido 0, Bonsubre 0, Agustin 0.
Apex Fuel-San Sebastian 64 -- Calahat 19, Sumoda 15, Villapando 12, Desoyo 6, Felebrico 6, Altamirano 3, Escobido 3, Are 0, Yambing 0, Shanoda 0, Cosari 0, Una 0.
Quarters: 7-11, 25-26, 44-43, 69-64.