JUAN Gomez de Liano showed why he's the frontrunner for the Conference MVP award, rescuing Marinerong Pilipino in the clutch in a 72-67 victory over EcoOil-La Salle in Game One of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup title series Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Skippers can seal the deal on Wednesday at the same venue.
Silenced all game long, the University of the Philippines guard uncorked six of the Skippers' last 10 points, including the dagger with 13.9 seconds left that gave their side a 68-64 lead.
Evan Nelle kept the Green Archers in the game with a three point shot in the ensuing possession, Jollo Go and Arvin Gamboa put the game on lock at the free throw line.
"We just followed our team mindset and we prepared so hard for this game," said Gomez de Liano, who only had nine points but did everything else with his 14 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.
Adrian Nocum stepped up with 22 points, five boards, and three assists, Go scored three triples for 15 points, eight rebounds, and three dimes, and Gamboa knocked down 14 points and six rebounds for Marinerong Pilipino, which moved a win away from the elusive PBA D-League crown after finishing bridesmaids in the 2019 Foundation Cup.
Schonny Winston paced EcoOil-La Salle with 21 points, but was limited to just two in the payoff period.
Kevin Quiambao also struggled in the game with his 3-of-14 field goal shooting to finish with just nine points, six boards, and three assists.
Marinerong Pilipino 72 -- Nocum 22, Go 15, Gamboa 14, Gomez de Liano 9, Bonifacio 5, Pido 4, Manlangit 3, Carino 0, Soberano 0, Hernandez 0, Garcia 0.
EcoOil-La Salle 67 -- Winston 21, Austria 15, Quiambao 9, Nelle 8, M. Phillips 7, Estacio 4, B. Phillips 3, Manuel 0, Cortez 0, Escandor 0, Buensalida 0.
Quarters: 21-12, 33-23, 51-52, 72-67.