In a thrilling double-header at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, the WANGS Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran Knights and the San Beda Red Lions emerged victorious to secure outright semifinal berths in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
The WANGS Basketball Strikers-Letran Knights stunned the University of Perpetual Help System Delta, winning a 62-61 nail-biter.
The Knights’ Kurt Reyson played the hero as he drilled a tough lay-up off the glass with barely seven seconds left.
Perpetual’s Cyrus Nitura attempted a desperate shot at the buzzer, but it fell short, sealing the victory for Letran. Reyson, the game’s standout player, finished with 13 points, six boards, three steals, and three assists.
Letran had to rally from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to secure the win. The Knights’ resilience and determination paid off, allowing them to keep their bid for an outright semifinal berth alive.
Letran coach Rensy Bajar praised his team’s effort, saying, “May pag-asa pa sa semis. Ginusto ng mga bata na manalo para sa tsansa na ‘yun. They worked hard for this” (There’s still hope for the semis. The boys wanted to win for that chance. They worked hard for this).
The Strikers-Letran Knights now have a 3-2 record and will face the reigning champion, EcoOi-La Salle, in their final elimination game on Thursday. The game victor will claim the second outright ticket to the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the San Beda Red Lions survived a late fightback from Centro Escolar University (CEU) to secure an 81-72 victory. The Red Lions held a 17-point lead in the first half but had to rely on a strong finish to break free from the resilient Scorpions. Jacob Cortez led San Beda with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
San Beda’s only loss in the tournament came in their opening game against the PSP Gymers. They were on a five-game winning streak, clinching the No. 1 seed and an outright semifinal ticket.
Despite securing the top spot, San Beda coach Yuri Escueta emphasized the need for his team to stay focused and prepared for the playoffs, saying, “The incentive of being No. 1 and being in the semis is, of course, welcome for us, but at the same time, hindi kami pwede mag-relax. Tataas ‘yung laro sa playoffs so we have to be prepared” (We can’t relax. The level of play in the playoffs will be higher, so we have to be prepared).
With the loss, CEU is assured of a quarterfinal berth but will need to regroup for the upcoming playoffs.
Wangs Strikers-Letran 62 – Monje 15, Reyson 13, Ariar 10, Javillonar 10, Fajardo 4, Santos 4, Alarcon 3, Tolentino 2, Cuajao 1, Go 0, Guarino 0.
Perpetual 61 – Roque 12, Nitura 11, Boral 8, Pagaran 7, Razon 6, Abis 6, Ferreras 5, Nunez 2, Ramirez 2, Barcoma 2, Movida 0.
Quarterscores: 11-20, 29-39, 48-49, 62-61.
Marinero-San Beda 81 – Cortez 15, Alfaro 11, Andrada 11, Jopia 11, Payosing 9 Visser 8, Cuntapay 7, Tagle 5, Puno 2, Royo 2, Jalbuena 0, Tagala 0, Gallego 0.
CEU 72 – Tolentino 15, Santos 15, Diaz 12, Balogun 6, Bernabe 5, Borromeo 4, Puray 3, Cabotaje 2, Pe?ano 0, Joson 0, Ferrer 0, Anagbogu 0.
Quartescores: 19-13, 42-31, 60-57, 81-72.