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Saints survive Skippers to claim D-League crown

BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare College drowned Marinerong Pilipino, 63-60, in the winner-take-all Game Three to capture the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Foundation Cup on Monday at the packed Paco Arena in Manila.

Seasoned guards Japs Bautista and Hesed Gabo delivered big as the Saints seized their first D-League championship and also gifted veteran head coach Stevenson Tiu the same feat.

“That’s my wish for how many years that I’ve been here in the D-League. I will remember this one because I coached a mix of young and veteran players. The young ones were the difference,” said an emotional Tiu, who had two runner-up finishes with the veteran-laden Chélu Bar & Grill.

BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare’s Hesed Gabo drives against Allan Mangahas of Marinero during Finals Game 3 of the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at the Paco Arena in Manila. PBA D-LEAGUE MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

The Saints needed to notch a series equalizer with a 74-69 victory in Game Two following a 59-69 defeat in the opener.

“After we lost in the first game, the players said they really wanted to win. I told them they cannot just say it. They gave their hundred percent commitment,” said Tiu.

Bautista fired 18 points to go with eight rebounds and two steals while Gabo finished with 12 markers, seven assists and five boards to lead the Saints.

The backcourt duo also accounted for 16 of Sumisip-St. Clare’s 19 points in the crucial fourth quarter.

Veteran forward Alfren Batino chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds while six other players added at least two markers.

Bautista and Gabo kept Sumisip-St. Clare afloat in the final frame before the latter hit a triple for a 59-57 lead with 3:24 remaining in the nip-and-tuck game.

Jhonard Clarito went on a strong drive to the hoop to push Marinero within 60-61 with 19.8 seconds left.

The Saints held a precarious 62-60 buffer on Joshua Fontanilla’s free throw and Malian big man Mohammed Pare bothered Mark Yee’s potential title-winning trey for the Skippers.

Yee led mentor Yong Garcia’s Marinero with 17 points and 14 rebounds while Clarito had 13 markers and 15 boards in the loss.

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