Ecooil-La Salle continued their impressive run in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup as they secured a return trip to the finals with a commanding victory over the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta.
The defending champions left no doubt about their dominance, routing Perpetual 108-91 in Game 2 to complete a clean sweep of the best-of-three semifinal series at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City on June 13.
From the opening tip-off, the Green Archers showcased their determination and hunger for success. They raced to a 28-13 advantage in the first quarter, establishing an insurmountable lead that their opponents could never overcome.
Led by the explosive scoring of Prince Ray Alao, who tallied 22 points with 12 coming in the first half, La Salle controlled the game from start to finish.
The absence of injured starting guard Evan Nelle did not hinder La Salle’s momentum. JC Macalalag stepped up admirably, contributing 11 points to fill the void left by Nelle. Kevin Quiambao, Bright Nwankwo, and EJ Gollena provided valuable support, each chipping in with 10 points, further solidifying La Salle’s dominance.
Deputy coach Gian Nazario, who has been leading the team in the absence of head coach Topex Robinson, emphasized that the playoffs serve as a platform to apply the lessons learned throughout the season. While satisfied with their performance so far, the Green Archers remain hungry for more success and are not contented yet.
Perpetual, which finished the elimination round at the third spot, struggled to recover from its sluggish start. Despite the efforts of John Abis, who led the Altas with 21 points, their top scorer Cyrus Nitura had an off night, contributing only four points to their cause. Perpetual’s hopes of extending the series and forcing a Game 3 quickly faded as La Salle’s dominance prevailed.
Now, La Salle awaits the outcome of the other semifinal series between Wangs Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran and Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda to determine their opponent in the best-of-three finals. With their commanding performance in the semifinals, the Green Archers have established themselves as the team to beat as they aim to defend their championship title.
The stage is set for an intense showdown in the finals as La Salle looks to claim another crown. Basketball enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the clash between the finalists, ready to witness the culmination of the season and the crowning of a new champion in the PBA D-League.
EcoOil-La Salle 108 – Alao 22, Macalalag 11, Quiambao 10, Gollena 10, Nwankwo 10, Austria 9, B. Phillips 9, M. Phillips 8, Nonoy 7, Cortez 5, Escandor 3, Manuel 2, Abadam 2, David 0.
Perpetual 91 – Abis 21, Pagaran 19, Ferreras 19, Razon 11, Ramirez 8, Roque 5, Nitura 4, Sevilla 2, Boral 2, Barcuma 0.
Quarterscores: 30-17, 51-36, 86-59, 108-91.