by Jerome Lagunzad
Game Tuesday (Ynares Sports Arena)
4 p.m. – Che’Lu Bar and Grill vs Zark’s Burgers
(Game 3, winner-take-all match)
From out of nowhere, Zark’s Burgers center Mike Nzeusseu soared high for an emphatic block on veteran Che’Lu Bar and Grill guard Stephen Siruma’s lay-up in transition, sending the leather flying to the stands inside the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
That smothering defense which coach Topex Robinson has been wanting to see was in full display last night as the Jawbreakers got back at the Revellers, 98-90, to force a winner-take-all showdown for the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown.
Newly-minted tournament MVP CJ Perez, despite incurring two quick fouls, still led their balanced attack with 15 points on top of seven rebounds and four assists but it was the Jawbreakers’ suffocating pressure that did the trick to bounce back from a 103-107 loss in the series opener last Tuesday.
“We reminded them this is the finals already and we have to bring our defensive mindset coming to the game,” said Robinson. “‘Yun naman ang nawala sa amin last game. We thought that it’s gonna be a walk in the park for us but reality struck us hard.”
The Bernard Yang-managed Jawbreakers, playing with a better sense of urgency this time, set the tone early on behind their vaunted pressure defense, taking control behind a strong 21-8 start before building a lead as high as 22 points in the third period.
But the Revellers refused to give up as Allyn Bulanadi, who led all scorers with 23 points, tried his best to spark their expected fightback but they could only pull the closest at within six points at 90-96, time down to just 6.7 seconds.
ZARK’S BURGER 98 – Perez 15, Jc. Marcelino 13, Ayaay 11, Nzeusseu 11, Baltazar 10, Yong 9, Pretta 8, Ibañez 7, Caduyac 6, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 2, Serrano 0.
CHE’LU BAR AND GRILL 90 – Bulanadi 23, Ilagan 13, Batino 12, David 12, Costelo 11, Calisaan 7, De Leon 5, Ablaza 4, Siruma 3, Capobres 0, Collado 0, Faundo 0, Taganas 0.
Quarters: 27-16, 54-34, 75-56, 98-90.