St. Clare trips Letran, notches playoff berth
Chris Bitoon came to Gamboa Coffee Mix-St. Clare’s rescue late in its 87-76 victory over Wangs Basketball-Letran Tuesday to clinch a spot in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup playoffs Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
With the Couriers pulling within one, 75-74, in the last 3:46, Bitoon bunched five points in the Coffee Lovers’ decisive 7-0 spurt late to propel his side to the next round.
Bitoon finished with 22 points, four assists, and three rebounds as he proved to be the perfect complement for Trevis Jackson, who once again shone with 29 markers, five boards, and three dimes.
Mohammed Pare nabbed a double-double of 12 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks, while Aris Dionisio got 11 markers, 13 boards and five rejections.
“We were win-or-go home in this game. We expected this team to fight and for us to get wins is just a bonus. We’re just glad that our bench really stepped up,” said coach Jinino Manansala.
Gamboa-St. Clare saw its 22-point advantage trimmed to just one in the final four minutes, but substitute Joshua Fontanilla found holes in Wangs-Letran’s defense before Bitoon stepped on the gas pedal and gave their side an 82-74 edge with 1:53 left to play.
Gamboa-St. Clare claimed fifth place with its 6-4 card and brought Zark’s-Lyceum to the quarterfinals, while also eliminating Wangs-Letran and Go for Gold from playoff contention.
Marinerong Pilipino stayed in the running for an outright semifinals berth after downing Perpetual, 78-66, in the other game.
Alvin Pasaol led the Skippers with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.