^ Cignal 8 1
^ Racal 7 2
* Cafe France 6 3
* Tanduay 6 3
AMA 5 4
JRU 4 5
x Batangas 4 5
x Wangs 3 6
x Victoria 2 7
x Blustar 0 9
^ – outright semis
* – twice-to-beat
x – eliminated
(Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig)
* – twice-to-beat
3 p.m. JRU vs Cafe France*
5 p.m. Tanduay* vs AMA
Mark Cruz delivered the goods for Tanduay, dropping 20 points to help his side score the slim 73-69 win over Jose Rizal University Tuesday at JSCGO Gym in Cubao and go on to the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup quarterfinals as the fourth seed.
The diminutive playmaker fired 12 of his team’s final 14 markers, while also adding seven assists, and two rebounds to keep the Rhum Masters’ winning streak alive at three and close the eliminations out with a 6-3 record.
“Live and die ako sa kanya,” said coach Lawrence Chongson of Cruz. “Maybe it’s also a good thing that I don’t have other playmakers and his minutes are getting extended.”
The former Letran star carried Tanduay in the fourth quarter as it shrugged off its early struggles in the second half and fought back from a nine-point hole, 38-29, early in the third period.
Jaymo Eguilos registered 14 markers and nine rebounds, Jerwin Gaco added a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards, and Bong Quinto got 11 markers and five rebounds for the Rhum Masters.
Tanduay will now meet AMA Online Education in the quarterfinals, with the former enjoying the twice-to-beat edge.
JRU, meanwhile, will be at sixth, bracing for the threat of three-seed Cafe France in their own series.
Joseph Marquez paced the Heavy Bombers (4-5) with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Tey Teodoro and Jhaps Bautista both got 15 markers in the loss.
In the first game, Victoria Sports-MLQU got itself the silver lining it hoped for, turning back Blustar Detergent, 85-76.
Fighting for pride, Victoria banked on Robbie Herndon to carry the load, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds to snap its three-game losing skid and finish the conference with a 2-7 record.
“Sabi ko sa players na tapusin namin ng maganda yung liga. Kahit na winless yung kalaban, hindi namin sila dapat binabalewala,” said coach Jinino Manansala.
Michael Ayonayon chimed in 14 markers and 10 rebounds, Ryusei Koga added 11 points and four assists, and Jayson Grimaldo had 10 markers and nine rebounds for Victoria, which missed the services of Aris Dionisio who was out due to personal reasons.
Already eliminated from the playoff race, Victoria stamped its class over the Dragons, slowly pulling away before establishing a 17-point edge, 65-48 with 8:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Despite the exit, Manansala can take pride knowing that his players made the most of their experience.
“This was really a good experience for us. Mahirap tanggapin yung laging talo, pero malaking bagay na yung experience na nakuha namin dito,” he said.
Tristan Perez wound up with 19 points and nine rebounds for the Blustar squad, which went winless in its nine games this conference.
VICTORIA 85 – Herndon 19, Ayonayon 14, Koga 11, Grimaldo 10, Lao 9, Nicholls 9, Ragasa 7, Bitoon 6, Baliday 0, Cariaga 0, Dela Cruz 0, Puspus 0, Rivera 0.
BLUSTAR 76 – Perez 19, Ang 12, Choong 11, Mak 10. Melano 10, Kwaan 7, Heng 3, Liaw 2, Chin 2, Ong 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 42-31, 61-48, 85-76.
TANDUAY 73 – Cruz 20, Eguilos 14, Gaco 12, Quinto 11, Sanga 10, Santos 5, Sollano 1, Stevens 0, Varilla 0, Vigil 0, Villamor 0.
JRU 69 – Bautista 15, Marquez 15, Teodoro 15, Amboludto 9, Grospe 8, Poutouochi 5, Lasquety 2, Dela Virgen 0, Publico 0.
Quarters: 16-14, 29-35, 56-57, 73-69.