Marinerong Pilipino whipped Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, 74-66, in Game 1 of the Philippine Basketball Association D-League best-of-three semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The victory put the Skippers on the verge of securing a finals ticket against the winner of the other semis pairing involving EcoOil La Salle and Adalem-St. Clare.
EcoOil also drew first blood, 89-74, behind the solid performance of Schonny Winston and Mark Nonoy.
Juan Gomez de Liaño came up with another all-around performance, putting the Skippers near their second finals appearance since the Foundation Cup in 2019.
Against the solid Stags, Gomez de Liaño topscored with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, while Arvin Gamboa put up 15 points, five boards and two assists.
Jollo Go added 14 points and Adrian Nocum nabbed 12 points and seven rebounds.
“We’re happy because our players executed our game plan very well,” said Marinerong Pilipino head coach Yong Garcia.
Gomez de Liaño, a former Japan B.League import, caught fire early, leading a 21-8 start before the top seed Stags caught up and made it a 31-39 game at the half.
It was the Skippers’ aggressive offense on 43 percent shooting that spelled the difference as they were able to stretch the lead up to 17, 72-55, while limiting San Sebastian to only 12 assists.
Winston, meanwhile, made an impact in his first D-League game for EcoOil, firing a game-high 24 points, four assists and three rebounds, while Kevin Quiambo controlled the defense with 18 points and four blocks.
CJ Austria led La Salle’s supporting cast, scoring eight of his 15 points in the final canto, while Nonoy sizzled for 15 on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown.
The Skippers and the Green Archers will go for the kill on Sunday also at the Big Dome.
Marinero (74) — Gomez de Liaño 16, Gamboa 15, Go 14, Nocum 12, Soberano 7, Carino 6, Bonifacio 2, Manlangit 2, Garcia 0, Bonsubre 0, Pido 0.
Apex Fuel (66) — Altamirano 12, Villapando 11, Felebrico 11, Sumoda 8, Calahat 7, Desoyo 7, Escobido 4, Shanoda 4, Are 2, Suico 0, Yambing 0, Garcia 0.
Quarters: 21-8, 39-31, 59-46, 74-66.
EcoOil-La Salle (89) — Winston 24, Quiambao 18, Austria 15, Nonoy 15, Nelle 4, Nwankwo 4, B. Phillips 4, Cortez 3, M. Phillips 2, Escandor 0, Blanco 0, Buensalida 0, Estacio 0.
Adalem-St. Clare (74) — Rojas 19, Estrada 14, Manacho 8, Gamboa 7, Tapenio 6, Estacio 5, Ndong 4, Sablan 3, Sumagaysay 3, Galang 3, Fontanilla 2, Lopez 0, Decano 0.
Quarters: 18-23, 41-36, 60-53, 89-74.
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