PBA DL: Marinero edges Zark's in opener.
by Jerome Lagunzad
Showing steely nerves down the stretch, Marinerong Pilipino survived Zark's Burgers, 94-92, last night for an auspicious start in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Up by 17 in the third quarter, the Skippers were jolted by the Jawbreakers' spirited fightback before finding a way to pull through.
"We all know this team (Zark's Burgers) will fight until the end. We really had to grind it out especially down the stretch. Good thing, our players stepped up," said Marinero Coach Koy Banal.
Renzo Subido sizzled with 20 points, including four free throws in the final 15 seconds, while ex-pro Gab Banal dished out 14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead the Skippers' attack.
JC Marcelino had 20 points while reigning NCAA league MVP CJ Perez added 19 and Cameroonian Mike Nzeusseu clustered 18 as they teamed up in leading the Jawbreakers' rally in the final canto.
After Pasaol scored a lay-up that kept Marinero's lead in double figures, Zark's Burgers refused to roll down and die, with Perez igniting a 10-2 counterattack that pulled them within 85-87, setting up the stage for a wild finish with 1:45 left.
Just when it seemed the momentum was already in their favor, the Jawbreakers apparently lost poise as Perez and Nzeusseu missed a pair of three-point attempts before JV Marcelino fouled Skippers counterpart Rian Ayonayon on a three-point try.
Ayonayon made two of his freebies that stopped the bleeding for a four-point lead, giving the Skippers full control with 25.6 left to play.
Although they set their title bid in motion, Banal admitted he's far from satisfied. saying: "It (the opening day victory) means nothing. We need to keep on working and get better every day because everybody's going to prepare hard against us."
Meanwhile, the league is set to hold its first-ever PBA D-League Showdown later this conference, giving the aspiring players added motivation to showcase their skills in front of coaches and scouts both here and abroad.
"Ginagawa naman natin ito para mas galingan ng mga players natin para rin maipakita nila yung tunay nilang talento," said PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial during the opening rites earlier in the day.
"Lahat ng mga players ay maglalaro dito at mapapanood hindi lang ng mga PBA coaches. Iimbitahin din namin ang mga coaches ng ibang bansa tulad ng Malaysia, Thailand, at Vietnam na kumukuha ng imports sa atin," he added.
MARINERONG PILIPINO 94 -- Subido 20, Ayonayon 15, Paredes 14, Banal 14, Robles 10, Tolentino 4, Tratter 4, Pasaol 4, Terso 3, Lopez 2, Inigo 2, Babilonia 2, Toth 0.
ZARK'S-LYCEUM 92 -- Marcelino JC 20, Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 11, Ibanez 6, Marcelino JV 6, Cinco 5, Tansingco 3, Santos 2, Pretta 2, Marata 0, Liwag 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 47-34, 69-58, 94-92.
CJ Perez (PBA Images)