LA SALLE versus St. Clare in semifinals

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
11 a.m. – EcoOil-La Salle vs. Adalem Construction-St. Clare
1 p.m. – Marinerong Pilipino vs. Apex Fuel-San Sebastian

APEX Fuel-San Sebastian, Marinerong Pilipino, EcoOil-La Salle and Adalem Construction-St. Clare lock horns one last time in the sudden death semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Aspir-ants’ Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After a back-and-forth duel, the four gritty squads figure in a win-or-go-home Game 3 with the winners this time advancing to the best-of-three finals for a chance to win the D-League’s first title amid the pandemic.

Second-seeded La Salle gets the first crack at 11 a.m. versus the No. 3 Saint Clare while No. 1 San Sebastian and No. 4 Marinerong Pilipino go at it at 1 p.m.

Momentum is on Saint Clare and San Sebastian after notching huge victories in Game 2 to stave off elimination, which they are aiming to carry over in the knockout battle.

The five-time NAASCU champion St. Clare fended off Santo Tomas in the do-or-die quarters before bouncing back again in the semis from an 89-74 Game 1 loss against La Salle with a 72-64 Game 2 win.

On the other end, automatic semifinalist San Sebastian’s long rest backfired in a 74-66 opener loss versus the lower-ranked Marinero and needed to regroup with an 82-74 win in Game 2.

Game 3 now will be an even tougher match, warned Golden Stags mentor Egay Macaraya.

Despite failing to close out their respective counterparts, the Green Archers and the Skippers are determined to rebound and get the job done.

“We can’t be complacent. We have to respect St. Clare because they’re still a champion team,” said La Salle tactician Derrick Pumaren. — John Bryan Ulanday