By JONAS TERRADO
Gab Banal came through with an inspiring performance when it mattered as Go for Gold defeated Che’Lu Bar and Grill, 102-92, last night to capture the PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown before a good-sized crowd at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Banal scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half to set the tempo in Go for Gold’s favor before hitting key baskets in a decisive run that prevented Che’Lu from completing its comeback in the fourth to seal the victory for the Charles Tiu-coached Scratchers.
Go for Gold, owned by Willy Ocier and backed by Mighty Sports Apparels, won the title series, 3-2.
His big game atoned for barely losing to Che’Lu star Jeff Viernes in the Most Valuable Player race while paying tribute to his father, veteran coach Joel Banal who is currently recovering from a heart attack.
“My dad was enough motivation for me to win. I hope I made him happy, I hope I made his heart happy,” said Banal.
Banal bucked cramps in the third quarter to deliver the coup de grace after Che’Lu reduced a 20-point deficit to five, 86-81, on Chris Bitoon’s layup with 5:49 remaining in the fourth.
Banal scored off JR Taganas, Chris Porter made a three-point play before Banal fired a three off a Jai Reyes kickout pass for a 94-81 advantage for Go for Gold, 4:03 left.