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Tanduay forces decider with UP-QRS-JAM on Acuña clutch trey

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Val Acuña buried the game-winning triple as Tanduay bounced back from an early huge deficit to stun UP-QRS-JAM, 68-66, in the second game of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup quarterfinals at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday.

Acuña converted the go-ahead long tom with 2.5 seconds left as the fifth-seeded Rhum Masters completed a comeback from 21 points down to cancel the fourth-seeded Fighting Maroons' twice-to-beat advantage and force a rubber match on Thursday.

UP-QRS-JAM went on a hot start, opening the game with a 20-9 first quarter lead that would be stretched to a 34-13 cushion in the second quarter.

Tanduay, however, got back in the third quarter, beginning the period on a 27-9 run to take a 50-48.

The Maroons ended the quarter on a 7-2 rally to retake the lead, 55-52.

But the Rhum Masters went on an 11-2 blast to open the fourth with the lead back, 63-57, with 4:49 remaining.

Gelo Alolino fired from long range to cut Tanduay's lead three, but thanks to a Rudy Lingganay lay-in, the lead moved back up to five, 65-60, with 3:04 left.

UP-QRS-JAM then made six unanswered points to get back the lead, but the last came off a Paul Desiderio split that only gave the team a 66-65 edge with 11.4 seconds left, opening the door for Tanduay.

Acuña responded with the game-winning trey even as Raymond Aguilar failed to force overtime with a missed jumper at the buzzer.

Pari Llagas led the Rhum Masters with 13 points, three rebounds, and one block, while Jeoff Javillonar added ten points, two rebounds, and two assists.

Aguilar finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal for the Maroons.

Box Scores:

Tanduay 68-Llagas 13, Javillonar 10, Acuña 9, Celda 7, Santos 6, Lingganay 6, Tagarda 6, Belencion 6, Gotladera 3, Wetherell 2, Pessumal 0, Eriobu 0, Ceñal 0

UP-QRS-JAM 66-Aguilar 17, Batino 15, Ferrer 13, Alolino 7, Soyud 4, Villarias 3, Desiderio 3, Lim 2, Neypes 1, Sorela 1, Moralde 0

Quarterscores: 13-26, 23-39, 52-55, 68-66

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