April 05, 2018

Akari-Adamson clinches top seeding, earns passage into Final Four

Akari-Adamson fended off a late rally by Jose Rizal University on the way to a 71-64 victory Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig and the top seed in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup.

Sean Manganti warmed up early, knocking 14 of his 15 points in the first half ferocious charge by the Falcons,who built a 46-27 advantage at the half and a 24-point advantage, 55-31, midway through the third period.

The Heavy Bombers, determined to finish their campaign on a winning note, slowly made their way back into the game with a 16-1 blast to end the third before Jeckster Apinan took over and pulled JRU within three, 58-55 in the final six minutes.

It turned out to be JRU's best run as Jerom Lastimosa and Papi Sarr stepped up at the right time, accounting for 11 of Akari-Adamson's final 13 points to secure the W.

"I experimented with the new guys in the third quarter and allowed them to do their own thing and it almost caused us the game," lamented coach Franz Pumaren.

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The Falcons finished their eliminations campaign with a 9-2 record to take the pole position and advance outright to the semi-finals.

"If you have told me at the start of the season that we'll end up as number one, I'll think you might just be pulling my leg," said Pumaren. "It's a surprise on our part because we came to the league with the sole purpose of gaining experience here."

Akari-Adamson will face the victor of the series between Che'Lu-San Sebastian and Gamboa-St. Clare.

Sarr corralled 13 markers and 10 rebounds, while Lastimosa had 11 markers, seven of which coming in the fourth quarter, aside from his five assists and four boards.

Apinan carried the torch for JRU (2-9) with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Paolo Pontejos had 10 markers and seven boards in the loss.

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The Scores:

AKARI-ADAMSON 71 -- Manganti 15, Sarr 13, Lastimosa 11, Ahanmisi 7, Camacho 7, Catapusan 6, Espeleta 5, Pingoy 5, Bernardo 2, Buenaventura 0, Macion 0, Mojica 0, Zaldivar 0.

JRU 64 -- Apinan 17, Pontejos 10, De Guzman 9, Porter 9, Mendoza 6, Grospe 5, Dela Virgen 4, Esguerra 2, Perez 2, Bordon 0, Silvarez 0, Yu 0.

Quarters: 22-20, 46-27, 56-47, 71-64.