Akari-Adamson survived a late flurry from Go for Gold to take the 98-92 victory Tuesday in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Pasig Sports Center.
Sean Manganti chipped in 14 markers, eight coming in the payoff period to halt the uprising from the Scratchers, while also collecting seven boards and two dimes in the bounce back win.
It was Jonathan Espeleta, though, who set the tone for the Falcons, firing 19 of his 24 points in the first quarter. He also had five rebounds and two rebounds.
Kurt Lojera chipped in 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Jerom Lastimosa had 12.
Espeleta couldn’t do anything wrong in the opening frame as his early explosion allowed Akari-Adamson to grab an 18-3 start which extended to 25, 69-44 in the third quarter.
J-Jay Alejandro and Matt Salem, though, helped Go for Gold fight back and trim the deficit down to just six, 86-80, with less than four minutes to play before Jerrick Ahanmisi and Manganti sealed the game shut
Falcons coach Franz Pumaren isn’t worried too much on how his side blew the large lead admitting that they are still “groping for form.”
“We’re process of experimenting. We have six new guys in our team and we’re trying to make sure they all get minutes,” he said as Akari-Adamson rose to 2-1. “That’s why we’re here, so that we can explore what the players are capable of doing and preparing us for the bigger leagues.”
Alejandro dropped 11 of his 19 points in the payoff period fightback as he shot 5-of-7 from three, while Salem flirted with a double-double with his 15 markers, nine rebounds, and four assists.
Go for Gold, which fell to its second defeat, dropped to a 1-2 slate.
AKARI-ADAMSON 98 — Espeleta 24, Manganti 14, Lojera 13, Lastimosa 12, Ahanmisi 11, Sarr 10, Catapusan 4, Buenaventura 3, Bernardo 2, Hill 2, Macion 2, Mojica 1, Camacho 0, Longalong 0.
GO FOR GOLD 92 — Alejandro 19, Salem 15, Dixon 12, Gutang 12, Casiño 9, Domingo 6, Gaco 6, Leutcheu 6, Pasturan 3, Naboa 2, Pili 2, Young 0.
Quarters: 32-18, 56-40, 74-60, 98-92.