MANILA, Philippines—Pong Escobal came alive in the fourth quarter to lead Fruitas over Boracay Rum, 73-61, Tuesday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Arena in San Juan city.
Escobal unleashed 20 points in the final frame alone as the Shakers pulled away in the last five minutes to keep their chances of nailing a quarterfinals slot going.
“Going into this game, I told them we need three things to happen for us to make it to the playoffs, the other two aren’t in our hands but we have to do our part which is to win,” said Fruitas head coach Nash Racela.
The former San Beda standout only had two points in the first three quarters but made up for lost time, coming through at the most opportune time.
Escobal, who had a brief stint in the PBA, went 10-of-10 at the free throw line and also collected four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Ola Adeogun missed his third straight game but this time Fruitas got help.
“Hirap manalo. Mahirap talaga without Ola, kasi lineup namin is designed heavily relying on Ola, Carlo (Lastimosa) and the third guy is Pong. Ang hirap na wala yung isa,” said Racela.
Jan Colina stepped up with 13 points, 11 in the first half to help Fruitas take a 33-29 lead by halftime, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Carlo Lastimosa struggled as he shot just four-of-14 from the field but his slump was hardly felt with Escobal coming through.
The Shakers trailed by six in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and still was behind, 53-55, before Escobal racked up 10 straight points, capped by a three that gave his team a 63-55 lead with only 2:22 left.
Fruitas improved to 5-5 but will only make the quarterfinals if Air21-JRU beats Cebuana Lhuillier on Thursday to close out the elimination round.
Maclean Sabellina paced the Waves with 14 points. Boracay Rum, which is now out of contention, saw its four-game winning streak snapped.