February 25, 2018, 3:44 am
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Falcons, Scratchers score

LEANING on a telling fourth quarter run, Akari-Adamson trounced Che’Lu Bar and Grill-SSC-R 84-75 yesterday for its second straight win that solidified its hold of third in the PBA D-League Aspirant’s Cup at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao.

After being held to a see-saw battle by the Revellers in the first three quarters, the Soaring Falcons went on a telling 9-0 blitz behind the likes of Jonathan Espeleta and Egie Boy Mojica that stretched a 60-54 lead to 69-54, 8:13 to go.

Jerrick Ahanmisi  finished with 18 points and three rebounds while Espeleta and Mojica added 15 and 12 markers, respectively, as Akari-Adamson improved to 3-1 while handing Che’Lu Bar and Grill-SSC-R its third loss and in five games.

Akari-Adamson coach Franz Pumaren downplayed his charges’ victory, saying: “We still have a lot of hard work to do and like what I have been stressing, we’re still not in great basketball shape right now and we’re still groping for form.

“As you can see, there are still a lot of lapses because some of my rookies are still adjusting to their respective roles.”

Che’Lu Bar and Grill stayed within striking distance of the Falcons early on and tied the game at 37-all at the break and trailed 53-60 going into the payoff period but faded when it mattered most.

The Revellers last threatened on Ryan Costelo’s two free throws that pulled them to within 66-75 that proved to be too little, too late.

Samboy De Leon and Alfred Batino paced Che’Lu Bar and Grill-SSC-R with 14 points each while Jeepy Faundo and RK Ilagan had 13 and 12, respectively.

In the first game, Go for Gold-College of St. Benilde thwarted repeated rallies from a hard-fighting Perpetual side for an 81-69 victory that snapped it out of a two-game skid.

Banking on a big second half surge, the Scratchers took several double-digit leads but had to fend off a spirited fightback from the Altas to rediscover their winning ways.

Former National U standout Jjay Alejandro scattered a game-high 23 points, to go with five rebounds and four assists for Go for Gold-CSB while 6-foot-7 Senegalese import Clement Leutcheu chipped in 14 markers and eight boards as the Scratchers evened their record to 2-2 while Perpetual slipped to 1-2.

Gerwin Gaco and Justin Gutang also provided ample help, wounding up with 11 points apiece for Go for Gold-CSB, who redeemed itself from a numbing 92-98 loss to Adamson last Feb. 6. The Altas failed to score a fitting follow-up to their 88-72 thumping of Jose Rizal University last Feb. 5.

Scratchers coach Charles Tiu agreed that his charges are showing improvement but was not pleased, especially after they allowed Perpetual to charge back.

He also recalled their heartbreaking 103-104 defeat to the Heavy Bombers last Jan. 30 in a game where his players shot 65 percent from the field but failed to get the job done.

“There’s a bit of improvement but I really feel we should be 3-1, we should have beaten JRU in a game we shot 65 percent. I don’t know how you lose a game shooting that way,” said Tiu.

“If we turn the ball over like in that game that’s will happen and today you can’t be happy kasi lamang na kami ng ilang beses but we kept on turning the ball over that gave them chances and I don’t know why we were so careless in that aspect when we’ve been emphasizing on taking care of the ball,” he added as his wards committed 30 turnovers.

After taking a 42-37 lead at the half, Go for Gold-CSB dropped a 13-0 blitz capped by a Gutang three-pointer that stretched the Scratchers’ lead to 55-43 at the 3:35 mark of the third canto.

Behind Kim Aurin, Rey Peralta, and Edgar Charcos, the Altas clawed their way back and made it 55-59 going into the payoff period.

Gutang sank a triple that gave Go for Gold-CSB its biggest lead at 76-62 with 5:01 remaining in the fourth, enough cushion to weather a late Perpetual rally that saw the Altas pull to within 69-78 on an AJ Coronel basket, only 1:08 left.

Peralta carried the fight for Perpetual with 18 points while Aurin had 17.

Six-foot-11 Nigerian behemoth Prince Eze, who posted a triple-double of 24 points, 20 rebounds, and 11 blocks the last time out, finished with only six points and did not play in the second half after suffering a bruised hip injury with 4:43 to play in the second period.

“That’s one thing (turnovers) I’m not happy about but I’ll take the win anyway,” added Tiu.
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