August 09, 2022

Streaking UST, St. Clare dispute last semifinal spot

ADALEM Construction-St. Clare and Builders Warehouse-UST battle for the last semifinal ticket up for grabs in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After a 0-6 start, the sixth-seeded Growling Tigers, strung up four straight victories and find themselves a win away from the Final Four.

Even interim coach Albert Alocillo is left in awe of how the Espana boys have turned things around with Sherwin Concepcion and Nic Cabanero leading the charge.

But in Friday's do-or-die game against three-seed Adalem-St. Clare, UST turned to rookie Kean Baclaan, who single-handedly carried the Growling Tigers by exploding for 35 points to stun the Saints, 98-93, leading to this sudden death.

Still, Alocillo warned his charges against complacency ahead of the 11 a.m. game, saying that while momentum is on the Growling Tigers' side, the Saints remain a formidable foe.

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"St. Clare is a champion team kaya hindi kami pwedeng mag-relax. Ipagpapatuloy lang namin yung trabaho at magpe-prepare lang kami," he said.

It's more of the same mantra for Adalem-St. Clare with coach Jinino Manansala urging his side to put the Game One loss in the rearview and focus on this do-or-die matchup for the right to face two-seed EcoOil-La Salle in the semis which starts on Friday.

"Hindi namin ginusto yung ending, pero lalaban pa rin yung boys ko. Tiwala pa rin kami na kaya naming makuha yung panalo," said Manansala, who will be relying on Joshua Fontanilla, John Rojas, and NAASCU MVP Johnsherick Estrada. (RL)