MANILA – Go for Gold Scratchers leaned on the game-long brilliance of Gabriel Banal to clinch the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown with a 102-92 win over Che’Lu Bar and Grill Revellers at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Banal, who previously played for NorthPort Batang Pier in the PBA, finished with 31 points on Thursday night, with 21 coming in the opening half. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
“My dad was enough motivation for me,” said Banal, who narrowly lost to Jeff Viernes for the Conference MVP award but dedicated the triumph to his ailing father coach Joel Banal.
Matthew Salem chipped in 15 points. Kris Porter added 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Ron Dennison contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Scratchers had a strong start in the opening half behind Banal to build a 27-18 advantage. This stretched to 55-40 at the half.
The lead grew further to its largest at 20 points in the third canto on back-to-back treys by Jerick Canada and Salem.
The Revellers countered with a huge run in the final frame to come to as close as 81-86 with over five minutes in the match. But Banal spearheaded Scratchers’ 8-0 scoring run to increase the advantage to 94-81.
“From the start, I really felt we’re the best team, not because of me but because of the players. They are that talented and I told them you just have to want it more,” said Scratchers head coach Charles Tiu.
Ilonggo Chris Bitoon tallied 20 points and four rebounds. Jason Melano added 17 points and eight boards, while Jeff Viernes struggled with 15 markers for the Revellers, which settled for a second straight runner-up finish./PN