KEAN BACLAAN caught fire in the second half on his way to 35 points to push Builders Warehouse-University of Santo Tomas (UST) to a huge 98-93 stunner over No. 3 seed Adalem Construction-St. Clare and keep its semifinals bid going in the Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The incoming rookie out of La Salle-Zobel uncorked 24 points in the Growling Tigers’ fiery second half, shooting three treys on top of five assists and three rebounds as the No. 6 seed stayed alive in its quarterfinal duel with St. Clare.
It was Baclaan who also kept Builders Warehouse-UST on the driver’s seat, turning a close 81-80 game midway through the fourth quarter to a seven-point lead, 92-85, with 3:34 left before turning to its defense to get the job done.
“Nagkakaunawaan na ang mga bata. Maganda na ang samahan namin and we embraced yung system namin,” said interim coach Albert Alocillo as the Growling Tigers stretched their win streak to four straight games now.
Nic Cabanero added 25 points and four boards, Sherwin Concepcion chimed in a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Paul Manalang contributed 12 points, three boards, and three dimes in the triumph.
Builders Warehouse-UST will try to finish the job off on Wednesday against Adalem-St. Clare in a do-or-die duel. The winner plays early semifinalist and No.2 seed EcoOil-La Salle.
Meanwhile, Juan Gomez de Liano and Jollo Go propelled fourth-seed Marinerong Pilipino to the semifinals with a 75-66 victory over Centro Escolar University in the other quarterfinals match.
The duo were pivotal for the Skippers halting their two-game losing skid and, in the process, setting up a semifinals date against no. 1 seed Apex Fuel-San Sebastian.
Gomez de Liano tallied 17 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds while Go nailed three treys for 17 points and grabbed two boards in the win.
“Nagkaroon talaga kami ng problema noong hindi healthy yung players pero masaya kami na kumpleto kami,” said coach Yong Garcia. “Ang importante, naipakita naming maganda ang itatakbo ng team.”
Arvin Gamboa poured 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals and his three-point conversion with 3:03 left put Marinerong Pilipino ahead to stay, 68-56.