Archers pummel Scorpions to zoom in on PBA D-League crown

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Archers pummel Scorpions to zoom in on PBA D-League crown
La Salle's Henry Agunanne dunks the ball.
PBA Images

Game Thursday
(Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig)
7:30 p.m. – EcoOil-La Salle vs CEU

MANILA, Philippines – Reigning champion EcoOil-La Salle overwhelmed challenger Centro Escolar University in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals, 98-72, to zero in on a third straight championship in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup on Monday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Without Abdul-Wahab Olusesi for the Scorpions, Henry Agunanne and Jonnel Policarpio dominated inside with 17 points each as the unbeaten Green Archers drew first blood with a bang in the short race-to-two showdown. 

Olusesi, the defensive anchor of CEU in its stellar finals run, missed the opener due to a left knee sprain that he suffered in the Scorpions’ 78-56 Game 3 win in the semifinals against Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda to advance.

“CEU was riding on a lot of momentum. Beating San Beda is such a huge achievement for their program so I told the players that CEU will be coming out with a lot of confidence with or without Olusesi,” said assistant coach Gian Nazaro on their eight win in as many games.

“We have to be prepared against them and I think from the start, ‘yun ang nagawa namin.”

La Salle, also kings of the UAAP, waxed hot early with a 23-9 start and even led by as many as 39 points en route to a lopsided 26-point win.

JC Macalalag (13, Raven Cortez (10) and EJ Gollena (10) threw in contributions for the Green Archers, who have a chance to become the second winningest franchise in D-League history with a three-peat.

NLEX, now in the PBA, owned the distinction so far with six D-League titles, including four straight in the early 2010s.

Daniel Marcelo, Dave Bernabe and Gabrielle Dan Gamboa fired 10 points apiece but La Salle still proved too strong for CEU in the tough defeat.

The scores:

EcoOil-La Salle 98 – Agunanne 17, Policarpio 17, Macalalag 13, Cortez 10, Gollena 10, Austria 6, Phillips 6, David 5, Alian 4, Abadam 3, Rubico 3, Gaspay 2, Buensalida 2, Marasigan 0, Romero 0.

CEU 72 – Marcelo 10, Bernabe 10, Gamboa 10, Darbin 8, Serrano 8, Santos 6, Malicana 6, Diaz 5, De Guzman 4, Guevarra 4, Benitez 1, Puray 0, Mendoza 0.

Quartescores: 23-9, 54-28, 79-45, 98-72.

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