May 09, 2024

EcoOil-La Salle claims third straight Aspirants' Cup trophy

The PBA D League Aspirants' Cup championship trophy will stay with EcoOil-La Salle.

The Green Archers dominated the Centro Escolar University Scorpions once again in Game 2 of their best-of-three titular showdown, 96-66, Thursday night to emerge champions of the tournament for the third straight year.

EcoOil-La Salle set the tone of the rout early with CJ Austria leading the charge that catapult the Green Archers to a 33-16 advantage after one quarter.

The three-peat champions kept the margin after two quarters as the Scorpions continued to struggle with the shots. CEU connected just 33 percent of its field goal in the first quarter and made just five of 23 attempts in the second period for a woeful 21 percent clip.

Without injured big man Abdul-Wahab Olusesi for the second straight game, CEU had a tough time defending the middle against La Salle Nigerian center Henry Agunane, who repeatedly scored on dunks and easy shots.

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In claiming their third straight title, EcoOil-La Salle finished the tournament without a loss in nine games.

It also became the second team to win three in a row after NLEX, which won four consecutive titles and six overall.

Austria finished with 19 points and had two steals in only 21 minutes of play. JC Macalalag had 17, Raven Cortez chipped in 12 and Agunanne added 10. Conference MVP Mike Phillips turned in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"First of all, I would like to thank the Lord for giving us this championship. We would like to thank the EcoOil management, the coaching staff and the players," said La Salle assistant coach Gian Nazario.

"It's nice to be in this position. 'Yun naman ang end goal namin, to win the championship. Hats off to CEU. They really had a great D-League run. They deserved to be in the finals and we're appreciative that we grew together here in the D-League."

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Franz Ray Diaz, Daniel Marcelo and Jayson Puray led CEU with 14, 13 and 12 points respectively. (JBU)

The Scores:

EcoOil-La Salle 96 - Austria 19, Macalalag 17, Cortez 12, Phillips 11, Agunanne 10, Abadam 7, David 5, Marasigan 3, Policarpio 3, Gollena 3, Romero 2, Buensalida 2, Alian 2, Gaspay 0, Rubico 0.

CEU 66 - Diaz 14, Marcelo 13, Puray 12, Dabin 9, Benabe 6, Gamboa 6, Guevarra 5, Santos 1, De Guzman 0, Benitez 0, Malicana 0, Mendoza 0, Serrano 0.

Quarterscores: 33-16, 47-30, 66-47, 96-66.