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Mac Belo provided big contributions on both ends while helping produce a telling windup as Phoenix beat Tanduay, 84-76, to move a win shy of capturing its second straight title in the opener of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals yesterday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
Belo finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists in almost 31 minutes of action after conspiring with Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, and Ed Daquioag in a 10-0 run that enabled the Accelerators to claim the first game of the best-of-three series.
The Accelerators can finish off the Rhum Masters, first-time D-League finalists, on Tuesday when the series shifts to the Strike gym in Bacoor, Cavite. Game 3, if necessary, is set two days later at the same venue.
One more win and Phoenix would become the second team in D-League history to win back-to-back titles, a feat done by NLEX twice when it ruled the first four conferences of the league from 2011 to 2013, followed by a double in 2014.
“Ang pep talk naming kanina is it depends kung sino ang uhaw (manalo ng championship). Sabi kasi ni (Tanduay) coach Lawrence (Chongson), mas uhaw ang Tanduay. Chinallenge ko yung mga bata to show it on the court,” said Phoenix coach Eric Gonzales.
Pogoy scored 22 points while Tolomia, a candidate for the Best Player of the Conference award, added 12 points, three rebounds and six assists.
Tanduay held a 67-66 lead with over five minutes left before Tolomia scored off a foul, Belo hit a three-point play, Pogoy buried a three, and Daquioag made a basket that put Phoenix up 76-67 near the final two minutes.
PHOENIX 84 – Belo 30, Pogoy 22, Tolomia 12, Daquioag 7, Mendoza 7, Andrada 2, Colina 2, Escoto 2, Batino 0, Inigo 0, Jamito 0, Tamsi 0.
TANDUAY 76 – Celda 15, Lingganay 14, Eguilos 10, Ferrer 10, Mendoza 10, Alolino 6, Santos 4, Belencion 3, Tagarda 3, Acuna 2, Javillonar 0.
Quarters: 21-22; 40-40; 58-57; 84-76.