Adalem Construction-St. Clare doused cold water on Apex Fuel-San Sebastian’s sizzling run with an 80-66 victory to clinch the no. 3 spot in the of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup playoffs Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Up by just a solitary point at the break, the Saints unleashed a searing third-quarter barrage to take command en route to finishing the eliminations with a 4-3 card.
John Edcel Rojas led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists as Adalem-St. Clare in the process secured a twice-to-beat advantage at the upper half of the quarterfinals bracket.
NAASCU MVP Johnsherick Estrada threw in help with 19 points—all in the second half— while veteran Joshua Fontanilla added 14 points, four dimes, and four steals in St. Clare’s stoppage of San Sebastian’s five-game run.
“Simula pa lang alam ko na win or go home kami. Kung manalo kami, No. 3. Pero kung matalo, 99.9% na maa-out kami. Sabi ko lang sa mga bata, naglalaro sila nang maayos pero ‘di lang maka-finish nang maganda,” said coach Jinino Mansansala.
“We know we have to go all out and this time, nakuha namin. Ngayon, maganda na napuntahan namin at twice-to-beat.”
Led by the troika of Rojas, Estrada and Fontanilla, the Saints found their groove in the third quarter and turned a slim 36-35 halftime cushion to a comfortable 60-51 upperhand at the hand, which they even ballooned to the biggest lead at 77-61 heading home.
The Saints followed Marinerong Pilipino as the only teams to beat Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, which has become a revelation this conference in clinching the No. 1 seed and an outright semifinal berth over a bevy of top contenders.
Romel Calahat and Jessie Sumoda had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Golden Stags, who finished the eliminations at 5-2 but saw their five-game win streak come to an end.