UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help System Dalta pulled away late to squeak past the pesky PSP Gymers, 97-90, and march on to the Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals Tuesday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Down by two in the last three minutes, the No. 4 Altas unleashed a staggering 11-2 finishing kick to make the most out of its quarterfinal incentive and eliminate the sixth-ranked Gymers in just one try.
Perpetual will face No. 2 seed and reigning champion EcoOil La Salle in a best-of-three semifinals series starting either on Thursday or next Tuesday depending on the result of the other quarterfinal pairing between CEU and Wangs Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran.
“Parang ‘di pang-quarterfinals ‘yung laro namin nung una pero ‘di kami pwedeng ‘di manalo ngayon after our pep talk with our school owner,” said coach Myk Saguiguit, referring to Dr. Antonio Tamayo’s encouraging words to his wards.
“It’s our first time in the D-League semifinals after three stints. It’s our first time to reach this feat so sana maging maganda,” he added.
Five players conspired for the Altas in the clutch, led by Cyrus Nitura, who showcased an all-around game and finished with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block including the dagger bucket in the last 49 seconds.
John Abis and skipper Jielo Razon added 19 and 18 points, respectively, while John Paul Boral (15) and Arthur Roque (13) also made their presence felt.
PSP kept its stride through the match and held an 86-88 lead in off Val Acuna’s trey with 2:55 left.
But the Altas had one last ace up their sleeves.
Razon completed his and-one to put the Altas back on the driver’s seat before Nitura came away with a coast-to-coast lay-up for the dagger, 95-90.
Abis hit two free throws with 15 seconds left for the final count.
Wendell Comboy led PSP with 26 points.