Go for Gold rode the hot shooting of Matt Salem to score a 96-87 over Marinerong Pilipino-TIP in Game 1 of their semi-final showdown in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The sweet-shooting forward knocked down five triples on the way to 24 points. He also did his part off-ball with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Jai Reyes chipped in 17 points, five boards, and three assists and debuting Jerick Canada corralled 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Jerwin Gaco, Vince Tolentino, and Kris Porter all scored nine points while also being a solid presence down low with a combined 15 rebounds to help the Scratchers take the opener in the best-of-three series.
"The players played well. I told the players that at the end of the day, it's the players who will win the game. We'll keep it simple and I know the players are talented players. Today, they performed," said coach Charles Tiu.
Tiu picked up two Ts for continuous complaining and was ejected with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter.
His absence fired up the Scratchers. After Robbie Manalang's freebie cut the lead down 74-69, Go for Gold went on a 20-9 run to pull away. Salem's triple capped that run that gave the Scratchers a 94-78 advantage with 1:31 left.
"It's hard to beat a team three times in a row. Baka today na yun, but luckily, we got away with the win," he said.
The Scratchers seek to advance to the Finals with another victory over Marinerong Pilipino-TIP on Thursday.
Abu Tratter led the charge for the Engineers 27 points and five rebounds while Trevis Jackson collected 21 points, 10 assists, and three boards.
GO FOR GOLD 96 - Salem 24, Reyes 17, Canada 11, Gaco 9, Porter 9, Tolentino 9, Publico 8, Banal 4, Wong 3, Pili 2.
MARINERONG PILIPINO-TIP 87 - Tratter 27, Jackson 21, Manalang 11, Napoles 11, Thiele 8, Johnson 7, Medina 2, Enguio 0, Ndiaye 0, Palencia 0.
Quarters: 23-21, 42-37, 68-58, 96-87.