Gab Banal once again proved his worth for Go for Gold, steering the two-seed to a dominant 103-75 thumping of Marinerong Pilipino-TIP for a sweep of their semi-final showdown in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The former GlobalPort forward, who leads the Conference MVP race, pumped 24 points, 19 rebounds, and had 10 assists to carry the Scratchers to the Finals.
Banal also became the seventh player to accomplish the feat, following Bobby Ray Parks, Mike Tolomia (twice), Jeron Teng (thrice), Kent Salado, Prince Eze, and teammate Matt Salem.
"I know Gab wants the MVP and he deserves it," remarked coach Charles Tiu. "He's been our best player all conference long. He's very smart, very unselfish, and he helped us get to the Finals."
Jerick Canada also had his share with his flawless 6-for-6 shooting from deep to register 18 points, three assists, and two boards off the bench.
Kris Porter chipped in 13 points and two rebounds, Jai Reyes unloaded 11 points and
six assists, and Salem had 10 points, three boards, and two dimes in the win.
The win finally gave Tiu a sense of relief after a roller coaster ride this conference for his side.
"The guys kept telling me, 'Coach, relax ka lang.' Pagdating daw ng playoffs, we'll be alright and they proved themselves right," he said.
The Scratchers now await the victor of the Che'Lu Bar and Grill-CEU semi-finals series for their date in the best-of-five championship duel.
Go for Gold went to work early, as Banal and company built a big 51-34 halftime lead that brought Marinerong Pilipino-TIP to its knees. The Engineers made it
pounding on to take a 28-point advantage, 101-73 in the waning seconds of the game.
Abu Tratter paced the Engineers with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Trevis Jackson was limited to just 13 points, five boards, four steals, and three dimes.
Marinerong Pilipino-TIP bowed out in the semifinals for the third straight conference.
GO FOR GOLD 103 - Banal 24, Canada 18, Porter 13, Reyes 11, Salem 10, Publico 7, Tolentino 6, Wong 6, Dennison 5, Pili 3, Castor 0, Gaco 0.
MARINERONG PILIPINO-TIP 75 - Tratter 20, Jackson 13, Palencia 11, Manalang 9, Medina 8, Thiele 6, Ndiaye 3, Enguio 2, Napoles 2, Johnson 1.
Quarters: 26-19, 51-34, 70-56, 103-75.