Clutch Paul takes Go for Gold home
Paul Desiderio is never afraid to take the big shots with the game on the line.
The standout from the University of the Philippines proved that again Thursday night.
Desiderio hit the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds to play, allowing Go for Gold to escape with a nail-biting 98-96 victory over Che’Lu Bar and Grill and take a 2-1 lead in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The gutsy Fighting Maroon also drilled two clutch triples in the last 65 seconds of the match before sealing his heroics by driving past Levi Hernandez for the marginal basket.
“I rode with Paul. I said, ‘Get the ball, do whatever you want, just take us home,’ and he did,” said coach Charles Tiu.
Desiderio started waxing hot in the second half, nailing 22 of his 28 points there as the Scratchers moved to within a win of claiming the crown.
Gab Banal, the Game 2 hero, chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Vince Tolentino added 19 for Go for Gold, which clawed its way back from a 46-62 hole.
Stuck in a nine-point deficit, the Scratchers went on a 24-11 blast capped by Desiderio’s second triple to grab a 95-91 lead with 26.3 seconds left.
Game 1 star Jeff Viernes countered with a quick two on the other end, and after a Jai Reyes split from the line, Chris Bitoon knotted the score with 14.7 ticks to play.
Desiderio committed the foul that sent Bitoon to the line, but he recovered with the game’s biggest basket to seal the victory.
“You have to give credit to the players, all the credit to the players. The only thing I told them at halftime is it’s a championship game,” Tiu said.
Go for Gold goes for the jugular on Game 4 on Tuesday.
Viernes led Che’Lu with 23 points and six assists.
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