Tanduay shrugged off a horrible first half and forced a rubber match against a stunned University of the Philippines QRS/Jam Liner, 68-66, in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup quarterfinals Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena.
Val Acuña sent the Rum Masters to cloud nine with a booming triple from the top of the key with 2.5 seconds remaining to force a third game against the fourth seed Maroons.
Tanduay head coach Lawrence Chongson praised his team’s toughness against UP despite trailing by as much as 21, 34-13, in the first half.
“Their resiliency, their instinct to survive, hindi nila kami pinahiya,” Chongson said of his fifth seeded team. “Still, we haven’t won anything yet.”
Chongson added they have to start stronger in Game 3 to make sure momentum is on their side and they don’t have to play catch up.
“Ayusin namin slow start namin at tyaka yung mental toughness, we committed many flagrants and the little extras kagaya ng pointing at the referees,” Chongson said.
Rudy Lingganay started Tanduay’s 8-0 run in the fourth quarter with two consecutive layups and Acuña capped it off with a triple to give the Rum Masters the 63-57 lead.
UP QRS/JAM Liner had the chance to send the game to overtime but Raul Soyud’s follow up of Raymond Aguilar’s miss came in after the buzzer has sounded.
Pari Llagas, who was ejected in the third quarter, led Tanduay with 13 points while Jeff Javillonar added 10 of his own.
Aguilar finished with 17 points and seven rebounds while Alfred Batino and Kevin Ferrer had 15 and 13 points, respectively.