PBA D-LEAGUE: EcoOil La Salle completed the historic three-peat and crushed the CEU Scorpions in Game Two

The EcoOil La Salle annihilated the CEU Scorpions, 96-66, in Game Two of the best-of-three series in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup, completing their campaign for a historic three-peat yesterday, May 9, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Mike Phillips was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolade, in which he averaged a double-double with 12.3 points and 11.6 rebounds throughout the tournament after Kevin Quiambao won the award last season for the Green Archers.

Player of the Game CJ Austria, who also recently garnered the MVP title in the UAAP 3×3 Men’s Basketball Tournament, had an outstanding performance with 19 points and two steals, shooting the ball at an impressive 63.64-percent and leading La Salle to victory. Jcee Macalalag contributed 17 points and was lights-out from the three-point line, hitting four-of-six shots, while Raven Cortez chipped in 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds; tournament MVP Phillips also recorded a silent double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the Game Two beatdown.

In the losing effort, Fraz Diaz, Daniel Marcelo, and Jayson Puray scored 14, 13, and 12 points, respectively, combining for 39 out of 66 of CEU’s points. However, their efforts were not enough to hold off the mighty La Salle.

Going all in

After a dominant win for La Salle in Game One, they did not let up their intensity to start Game Two as they were pressuring CEU’s guard to stiffen, setting their offense with Macalalag drilling a three-pointer to open the scoring, 3-0. Henry Agunanne turned his shot block on the defensive end to an easy slam in the other to build a 5-3 advantage. CEU called a timeout with 7:35 left in the quarter after a slam dunk from Agunnane, 8-3.

A corner three-pointer from Macacalag capped off a 10-point blitz for EcoOil as the lead swelled to 13 points, 18-5. The Green Archers kept pushing the pace, as Austria scored an easy layup in the fast break off a defensive stop as the lead ballooned to 15, 22-7. With the time winding down in the quarter, both sides kept scoring back-and-forth, but EcoOil kept their lead up to 17 points, with Earl Abadam knocking down a pair of free throws to end the first quarter, 33-16.

The Green-and-White started the second quarter playing sloppy on both sides, with Jason Puray swishing down a three-pointer to open the quarter 33-19. Austria had a mini 4-0 run by himself, capped off by a layup in the fast break, 37-19. With both teams struggling to score baskets, La Salle called a timeout with under six minutes left in the quarter. Coming off the break, EJ Gollena heated up for the Green Archers and scored an and-one play to store a 23-point lead, 42-19. 

EcoOil was eager to run the break after defensive stops but failed to put the ball inside the ring, which kept CEU afloat in the game, 42-22. Despite being down, the Scorpions played two-three zone defense against the Green Archers, and it worked wonders as they stifled the scoring for La Salle. Diaz capped off a 10-nothing run for CEU with a layup, 44-30, as they held the Green Archers scoreless for three minutes and 29 seconds before Macalalag drilled a corner three-pointer to end the dismissal in the second quarter, 47-30.

Big half for big guys

Despite a big lead, EcoOil La Salle was still struggling to break down the zone defense of the Scorpions. With CEU’s Marcelo heating up with three straight baskets early in the third quarter, the Green-and-White relied on Phillips’ inside presence and second-chance points to maintain the double-digit lead, 51-38. 

However, the insertion of Agunanne and Jonnel Policarpio into the game distorted the zone defense of the purple shirts as the ball movement for the white shirts improved, opening up Macalalag for a three and a fastbreak layup to extend the lead to 18 markers, 59-41. With La Salle’s momentum building, Austria and David found leeway to get to the basket to extend the lead to 19 markers to end the third quarter, 66-47.

At the start of the fourth, the Scorpions made the Green Archers work for their baskets as Cortez and Phillips hustled for second-chance points, 71-47. La Salle looked to finally settle the game as they increased intensity in their full-court press. As the Lasallians continued to pick up momentum, Cortez and Phillips became scoring options on offense as they saw easy buckets inside the paint to increase the lead to 24, triggering a CEU timeout, 80-56.

When it looked like the Scorpions would make a comeback, Phillips went back to work inside the paint, supplemented by Austria and Ethan Alian’s baskets to go on a 10-0 run to increase the lead, 90-64. With time running out, CEU could not launch a revenge, and both teams cleared their benches until they saw the final score in La Salle’s favor, 96-66.

After the game, Coach Gian Nazario expressed his joy after the D-League championship win by La Salle and noted the growth the team enjoyed in the tournament, “It’s nice to be in this position. ‘Yun naman yung end goal namin after Game One, which is to win a championship. Just really appreciative of what’s going on in the team, especially yung growth and the team taking this opportunity to grow together.” 

(That was really our end goal after Game One, which is to win a championship.)

He also stressed the continuous improvements to the team brought by Coach Topex Robinson over one year since he took over, “Yun naman yung gusto namin mangyari—magkaroon kami ng winning culture. Ever since Coach Topex came in, I’m sure you notice that yung kultura talaga nagbago.”

(That is what we really wanted, to have a winning culture. Ever since Coach Topex Robinson came in, I’m sure you noticed that our culture really changed.)

This win sealed the Finals series in EcoOil La Salle’s favor, sweeping the CEU Scorpions, 2-0. This championship is the Green-and-White’s third straight title in the PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup.

The Scores:

DLSU 96 – Austria 19, Macalalag 17, Cortez 12, Phillips 11, Agunanne 10, Abadam 7, David 5, Marasigan 3, Policarpio 3, Gollena 3, Romero 2, Buensalida 2, Alian 2, Gaspay 0, Rubico 0 

CEU 66 – Diaz 14, Marcelo 13, Puray 12, Dabin 9, Benabe 6, Gamboa 6, Guevarra 5, Santos 1, De Guzman 0, Benitez 0, Malicana 0, Mendoza 0, Serrano 0

Quarter Scores: 33-16, 47-30, 66-47, 96-66

Daniel Quiroga

By Daniel Quiroga

Raphael Serrano

By Raphael Serrano

Leave a Reply