La Salle defends D-League title, sweeps San Beda in finals

EcoOil-La Salle is still the PBA D-League champ. PBA Images
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASIG—Reasserting its conference dominance, EcoOil-La Salle rode on a fiery second-half run to rout Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, 89-74 and successfully completed its PBA D-League Aspirants Cup title repeat Monday at the jampacked Ynares Sports Arena. 

The Green Archers went on a decisive 17-4 run in the third quarter with Conference Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao spearheading the charge. 

The 22-year-old big man Quiambao stuffed the stat sheet after exploding with a double-double performance of 26 points and 10 rebounds with two assists and one steal. 

"Credits lahat sa teammates ko. Lumaban kami. Mula Game 1 pa lang, kita mo na agad 'yong passion ng bawat isa," Quiambao said.

"Trust the system lang. Lahat naman ng score ko galing lang sa sistema nila Coach Topex [Robinson] at Coach Gian [Nazario]. Thankful ako na I delivered naman," he added.

Picking up where they left off after their Game 1 win, La Salle started the game with a smothering defense, putting the pressure on San Beda right off the bat that eventually led to a series of errors for the Red and White.

La Salle scored 13 points off San Beda's turnovers in the first quarter that dictated the pace of the match as the former finished the quarter ahead, 27-20. 

The Yuri Escueta-led team then fought back with JV Gallego providing the much-needed spark off the bench, knocking down nine of the 12-4 scoring rally of the Red Lions to end the half with San Beda trailing only by one, 42-43. 

But the reigning champion La Salle dropped a 17-4 bomb to open the third after a series of crucial baskets from Quiambao that shifted the momentum back to Taft, 60-46.

Mark Nonoy's trey late in the fourth quarter gave EcoOil-La Salle its biggest advantage at 85-66 and the nail in the coffin. 

Nonoy tallied 14 points while veteran guard Evan Nelle finished with 16 points, including tough jumpers that also ignited the second-half surge for La Salle. 

"I just kept on reminding the boys that we cannot skip steps. Kailangan pa rin naming maglaro ng 40 minutes. I'm just really happy with how these guys performed all throughout the tournament," Nazario, who was entrusted by Robinson to lead the team in the conference, uttered.  

Yukien Andrada notched 15 points for San Beda. 

James Payosing and Damie Cuntapay both also had 12 markers, respectively.

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