By Jerome Lagunzad
Gamboa Coffee Mix used a big defensive effort in the fourth quarter as it rallied past Perpetual Help to score a 78-73 victory and get its 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup title campaign back on track Monday at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.
Aris Dionisio produced his finest showing so far with 21 points, 11 of them coming in the final canto, on top of eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals while Mali center Mohammed Pare added 16 points and 10 rebounds to help the Coffee Lovers.
However, it was the team’s collective desire to play lockdown defense in the stretch that spelled the difference for Gamboa Coffee Mix, which limited Perpetual Help to six points in the last four minutes of play.
The hard-earned victory enabled the Coffee Lovers to bounce back from a 92-85 loss to league-leading Akari-Adamson Falcons last Feb. 15 and move up to fifth spot with a 3-2 mark.
“Nakapag-adjust kami sa depensa,” said Gamboa Coffee Mix coach Jinino Manansala, who pressed the right buttons in terms of their defensive schemes just in time to wipe out a 12-point deficit early in the final period.
“We played our match ups and we made some defensive adjustments, especially on our pick and roll that’s why we got a lot of steals (13 in all).”