MANILA, Philippines -- Held in check for most of the game, Juan Gomez de Liaño came alive in the clutch to lead Marinerong Pilipino to a hard-earned 72-67 triumph against EcoOil-La Salle in Game 1 of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Finals, Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gomez de Liaño scored six of the Skippers' last 10 points, including the dagger with 13.9 seconds left that put them up, 68-64.
An Evan Nelle triple kept the Green Archers in the game, but Jollo Go and Arvin Gamboa knocked down clutch free throws to seal the triumph for the Skippers.
"We just followed our team mindset and we prepared so hard for this game," said Gomez de Liaño, who made just four of 10 shots for nine points but delivered in other ways for Marinerong Pilipino.
The former UAAP Rookie of the Year had 14 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in 30 minutes of action.
Adrian Nocum picked up the scoring slack, firing 22 points, while Go had 15 points after making three three-pointers in the game. Gamboa had 14 points and six rebounds.
Marinerong Pilipino took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series, moving them a win away from an elusive PBA D-League crown. The Skippers had finished as runners up in the 2019 Foundation Cup.
Deschon Winston had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting for La Salle, but he scored just two points in the fourth quarter. CJ Austria had 15 points, while Mike Phillips had seven points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks for the Green Archers.
Game 2 of the Finals is on Wednesday, still at the Big Dome.
Marinerong Pilipino 72 -- Nocum 22, Go 15, Gamboa 14, Gomez de Liano 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