ADALEM Construction-St. Clare doused cold water on Apex Fuel-San Sebastian's sizzling run with an 80-66 victory to clinch the no. 3 spot in the of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup playoffs Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Up by just a solitary point at the break, the Saints unleashed a searing third-quarter barrage to take command en route to finishing the eliminations with a 4-3 card.
John Edcel Rojas led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists as Adalem-St. Clare in the process secured a twice-to-beat advantage at the upper half of the quarterfinals bracket.
NAASCU MVP Johnsherick Estrada threw in help with 19 points - all in the second half - while veteran Joshua Fontanilla added 14 points, four dimes, and four steals in St. Clare's stoppage of San Sebastian's five-game run.
"Simula pa lang alam ko na win or go home kami. Kung manalo kami, No. 3. Pero kung matalo, 99.9% na maa-out kami. Sabi ko lang sa mga bata, naglalaro sila nang maayos pero 'di lang maka-finish nang maganda," said coach Jinino Mansansala.
"We know we have to go all out and this time, nakuha namin. Ngayon, maganda na napuntahan namin at twice-to-beat."
Led by the troika of Rojas, Estrada and Fontanilla, the Saints found their groove in the third quarter and turned a slim 36-35 halftime cushion to a comfortable 60-51 upperhand at the hand, which they even ballooned to the biggest lead at 77-61 heading home.
The Saints followed Marinerong Pilipino as the only teams to beat Apex Fuel-San Sebastian, which has become a revelation this conference in clinching the No. 1 seed and an outright semifinal berth over a bevy of top contenders.
Romel Calahat and Jessie Sumoda had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Golden Stags, who finished the eliminations at 5-2 but saw their five-game win streak come to an end. (RL)
ADALEM-ST. CLARE 80 -- Rojas 20, Estrada 19, Fontanilla 14, Gamboa 8, Estacio 7, Sumagaysay 6, Ndong 2, Manacho 2, Lopez 2, Galang 0, Sablan 0.
APEX FUEL-SAN SEBASTIAN 66 -- Calahat 19, Sumoda 14, Altamirano 7, Are 6, Yambing 5, Shanoda 4, Desoyo 4, Felebrico 4, Garcia 3, Escobido 0, Cosari 0, Paglinawan 0.
Quarters: 12-15, 36-35, 60-51, 80-66.