Phoenix nails D-League crown
PHOENIX completed a season sweep to prove yet again that it boasts some of the league’s best clutch performers.
And this time, the Accelerators did it against a Tanduay team that had thrived in do-or-die games all conference.
“I’m just thankful that everything worked,” said Phoenix coach Eric Gonzales after the Accelerators bagged their second straight crown.
The Accelerators—who banked on the core of UAAP champion Far Eastern University—tripped the Rhum Masters, 87-78, in the winner-take-all Game 3 to capture the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship yesterday at Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Mike Tolomia, the conference Most Valuable Player, regained his explosive form to finish with a game-high 21 points after a bout with flu in the Accelerators’ Game 2 loss.
“More than his scoring, I’m thankful for his leadership,” said Gonzales. “Mike has been a winner, he doesn’t like to lose games.”
Mac Belo, also a consistent winner with both Phoenix and FEU, dropped 10 of his 14 points in the second half where the Accelerators survived the Rhum Masters’ scoring surge.
Although the Accelerators twice led by 20 points in the second half, the Rhum Masters rallied behind Jaymo Eguilos, Val Acuña and Reden Celda to threaten within three points, 66-63, going into the last seven minutes.
The Accelerators, though, kept their cool and responded with a Francis Tamsi triple and back-to-back baskets from Ed Daquioag and Russel Escoto to put the lead back up in double figures, 73-63.
“We’ve experienced this in past games,” said Tolomia. “But we always stayed together as a team, especially on defense. Even if we struggle offensively, we’re OK as long as we play defense.”
Raymar Jose provided the Accelerators an early boost with his hustle before finishing with nine points and five rebounds.
PHOENIX 87—Tolomia 21, Belo 14, Daquioag 10, Escoto 9, Jose 9, Andrada 6, Mendoza 6, Iñigo 5, Pogoy 4, Tamsi 3, Colina 0.
TANDUAY 78—Eguilos 16, Celda 14, Acuña 13, Alolino 13, Lingganay 10, Ferrer 7, Belencion 3, Gotladera 2, Javillonar 0 Mendoza 0, Santos 0, Tagarda 0.
Quarters: 32-17, 48-34, 65-56, 87-78
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