MARINERONG Pilipino came out with guns blazing early. After a gritty BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare charged back in the second half, the Skippers’ defense spelled the big difference.
The Skippers turned back the Saints 69-59 in Game 1 of their finals duel and moved within a win of reaching the Promised Land for the first time in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Rev Diputado led Marinerong Pilipino with 12 points and four rebounds while William Mcaloney had nine markers and four boards. Former pro Eliud Poligrates and Leonard Santillan also added nine and eight points, respectively for the Skippers, who go for the jugular next Wednesday at The Astrodome in Pasay.
Marinerong Pilipino is bidding to become only the squad in D-League play history to bag the title with an unbeaten record after NLEX did the trick twice – in the Foundation Cup in 2012 and 2014.
A deciding match, if necessary, will be played on Oct. 14 at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Despite the win, their 10th straight in the tourney, Marinerong Pilipino coach Yong Garcia wants his charges to play with their A-Game in Game 2.
“Iyon (complacency) ang naging problema namin before at lumabas ulit,” said Garcia.
“Dapat pagdating ng Game 2, hindi kami dapat parang roller coaster, dapat mag-stick kami sa game plan namin,” he added.
The Skippers zoomed to a fiery start and took a 43-34 spread at the half and still enjoyed a 54-41 edge going into the payoff period.
The Saints clawed their way back and pulled to within 57-64 on a Mohamed Pare’s three-point play conversion with 1:52 remaining in the fourth canto.
Marinerong Pilipino came up with two big defensive stops on Pare before Santillan and Diputado sealed the win with three free throws in the final 40 seconds.