ECOOIL-La Salle kept its title hopes alive, staving off Marinerong Pilipino with a feisty 70-63 win in Game Two of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Finals Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"We just caught them napping at the start. We came out strong. I know we're tired as we're playing almost every day but it's the mindset for us.
The Green Archers unleashed a scorching start but needed one last stand in the crunch to hold off Marinero's comeback attempt and drag the quick race-to-two titular showdown to a winner-take-all Game 3.
With little to no break, both teams go at it one last time next Wednesday at the same venue for all the marbles.
Michael Phillips led EcoOil-La Salle's revenge after a close 72-67 loss in Game 1, collaring a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds plus four blocks while Schonny Winston, Evan Nelle, CJ Austria and Kevin Quiambao provided support down the stretch.
Winston added 15 and Austria had 11 while Nelle (8) and Quimbao (6) put on the finishing touches in the last minute for the Taft side.
We just came out ready and we played our game unlike in the first game where we played tentative," said coach Derick Pumaren.
"I'm proud of the way the boys kept their pressure. We were playing not to lose but we're able to correct that and make big mistakes."
With its backs against the wall, EcoOil-La Salle started like a house and fire and raced to an 18-8 lead, setting the tempo that kept Marinerong Pilipino at bay all game long.
Early in the fourth, the Green Archers were still up comfortably at 51-41 following Bright Nwankwo's thunderous dunk before the Skippers came back and uncorked a 21-12 rally capped off by Conference MVP Juan Gomez de Liano's booming trey in the 1:21 mark to strike within a point, 62-63.
Nelle then swished three free throws after Kemark Carino's foul as Quiambao hit a fadeaway dagger in back-to-back possessions to ice it for EcoOil-La Salle.
Jollo Go paced Marinerong Pilipino with 21 points as Gomez de Liano had 14 in a tough losing effort that spoiled his MVP coronation and the Skippers' potential title clincher. (RL)
EcoOil-La Salle 70 -- M. Phillips 18, Winston 15, Austria 11, Nelle 8, Nwankwo 7, Quiambao 6, Manuel 5, B. Phillips 0, Nonoy 0.
Marinerong Pilipino 63 -- Go 21, Gomez de Liano 14, Carino 14, Pido 5, Soberano 3, Nocum 2, Manlangit 2, Agustin 2, Gamboa 0, Bonifacio 0, Hernandez 0, Bonsubre 0, Lacap 0, Garcia 0.
Quarters: 20-10, 34-26, 49-41, 70-63.