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Sports

Double knockout tiffs forged

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Top-seeded Apex Fuel-San Sebastian and Adalem Construction-St.Clare refused to be beaten, scraping past their separate counterparts to force a pair of deciding Game 3s in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

On the brink of elimination, the Golden Stags hacked out an 82-74 win over Marinerong Pilipino while the Saints took down the Green Archers, 72-64, in Game 2 of their best-of-three duels.

The four squads go at it once more on Wednesday with the winners arranging a battle for all the D-League marbles in another race-to-two derby.

Both San Sebastian and St. Clare bowed in the series opener but fought back behind a bevy of heroes led by the dazzling backcourt duo of Johnsherick Estrada and Joshua Fontanilla for the Saints.

Estrada, the NAASCU MVP, collected 22 points including 11 in the payoff period on top of six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal while Fontanilla added 21 markers.

“Alam namin na tatapusin ni Josh and Estrada ‘yung game, pero dapat lahat ‘yan magsimula sa depensa,” said coach Jinino Manansala, whose wards absorbed an 89-74 loss in Game 1.

San Sebastian, meanwhile, leaned on a balanced attack as five cagers put up twin digits led by Romel Calahat’s 15-10 double-double to avenge its 74-66 defeat in the series opener.

Jessie Sumoda (14), Ichie Altamirano (13), Rafael Are (10) and Alex Desoyo (10) provided coverage for the Golden Stags, who flipped a 68-71 deficit in the last two minutes en route to the big do-or-die win.

“The effort, laging nasa kanila. When you work hard, good things will happen,” noted coach Egay Macaraya.

Ben Phillips (15) and Jollo Go (28) had their efforts wasted in the foiled clincher of the Green Archers and the Skippers, respectively.

PBA D-LEAGUE

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