REIGNING champion EcoOil-La Salle turned it up late to hold off University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 80-73, and catch up with Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda on top of the standings in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
"We're just starting, we're learning. We're on that learning curve of figuring things out. We'll have struggles and mas gusto namin iyon.
The Green Archers erased an early 12-point deficit behind a big fourth-quarter surge and went on to tie the idle Red Lions at 3-1.
Kevin Quiambao collected 15 points and 12 rebounds while Francis Escandor, CJ Austria and Mark Nonoy chipped in 15, 14 and 13 markers, respectively, for La Salle which hardly missed the absence of brothers Mike and Ben Phillips and the injured Evan Nelle.
The Phillips brothers are with the Gilas Pilipinas competing in the 32ndSoutheast Asian Games while Nelle is nursing a groin strain.
"We know that we're gonna struggle against a tough Perpetual team that's been playing well here and in their other tournaments. Good thing, we're able to figure things out defensively," said deputy coach Gian Nazario.
La Salle played catch-up basketball to the well-oiled Perpetual in the first half that saw them trail as much as 28-16 before Quiambao, Austria, Escandor and Nonoy took over.
The game remained close in the fourth quarter until the Green Archers uncorked a 15-4 run capped by Austria's transition basket and La Salle practically took control, 79-70, with two minutes left
Cyrus Nitura turned in 21 points for the Altas , who went down to their second straight loss in four matches. (JBU)
EcoOil-La Salle 80 - Quiambao 15, Escandor 15, Austria 14, Nonoy 13, David 7, Cortez 6, Gollena 6, Nwanko 4, Buensalida 0, Alao 0.
Perpetual 73 - Nitura 21, Ferreras 16, Roque 14, Abis 6, Barcoma 6, Boral 4, Razon 4, Nunez 2, Movida 0, Sevilla 0, Ramirez 0.
Quarterscores: 16-20, 36-40, 56-52, 80-73.