(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
Game 3 of Best-of-3 Finals
12 p.m. — Marinerong Pilipino vs EcoOil-La Salle
MARINERONG Pilipino and EcoOil-La Salle cross paths once more to clash for all the marbles in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup finals today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After exchanging blows in the first two games of the quick best-of-three series, the Skippers and the Green Archers lock horn one last time at 12 p.m. with D-League’s first title amid the pandemic up for grabs.
Momentum is on EcoOil-La Salle after forcing a rubber match with a big 70-63 win in Game 2, which coach Derrick Pumaren is hoping to carry over in the season’s last battle.
“We know what’s at stake. We can’t play tentative again because that’s not who we are. We’ve got to be better,” said the seasoned tactician, who will lean on prized big man Michael Phillips anew.
Mr. Phillips hauled down 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in that match but is expected to come out even stronger after a runner-up finish to Marinero’s Juan Gomez de Liaño in the MVP race.
Backstopping him in towing La Salle to a sweet D-League championship for a good build-up to the UAAP in October are ace guards Schonny Winston and Evan Nelle as well as Gilas Pilipinas campaigner Kevin Quiambao.
Led by MVP Mr. De Liaño, Marinero is ready for the challenge in a bid to finally realize its D-League title dream that is already three years in the making after a failed attempt in Game 2.
Marinerong coach Yong Garcia, who will also bank on veteran Jollo Go and big man Kemark Cariño to get the job done.
The Skippers in 2019 swept the D-League eliminations only to lose in the finals. This year, it came closer to finally achieving the feat with a 72-67 Game 1 win before falling short in Game 2. — John Bryan Ulanday