Byron Villarias starred as Marinerong Pilipino cruised to its first finals berth after thrashing Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP), 96-79, in Game 2 of the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Foundation Cup semifinals on Monday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Prized recruit guard Villarias exploded with a game-high 25 points built on seven triples, anchoring the Skippers’ smooth sailing to a maiden finals appearance since joining the developmental ranks in 2017.
Marinero completed a sweep of TIP in the best-of-three semifinals after following up its 98-89 win in Game 1.
“We’re happy we made it to the finals but we’ll be even happier if we win the championship,” said head coach Yong Garcia, whose Skippers finally got a shot at the title after three Final Four finishes.
“From the management, coaching staff and players, everybody really exerted effort for this,” added Garcia.
Marinero will take on the winner between BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare College and Centro Escolar University in the other semifinal pairing. The Saints are seeking to finish off the Scorpions at press time.
Jhonard Clarito chalked 13 points, three rebounds and three assists, big man Will McAloney added 11 markers and seven boards while recruit Santi Santillan chipped in 10 markers for the Skippers.
All but one of the other nine players deployed by Garcia contributed at least two points.
Villarias, who was part of the Cignal-San Beda champion squad in 2017, sank three triples and a layup to fuel Marinero’s blistering 27-7 run that turned a 51-51 deadlock into a 78-58 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Skippers were never threatened from there as they enjoyed their biggest buffer at 28 points, 92-64, on Jordan Rios’ basket with 6:36 remaining in the game.
Christian Daguro led mentor Potit De Vera’s Engineers with 17 points while Nigerian center Papa Ndiaye had 16 markers and captain GC Carurucan had 15 points in the loss. JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA