Head coach Charles Tiu bet on Paul Desiderio’s prowess and won.
Desiderio hit the game-winning basket that lifted Go For Gold to a 98-96 comeback win over Che’lu Bar & Grill, grabbing a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five finals of the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League Foundation Cup finals on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Desiderio’s go-ahead layup with 3.4 seconds left was the highlight of the Scratchers climb from 16 points down to a thrilling Game 3 win.
“I rode with Paul. I said, ‘Bahala ka. Get the ball, do whatever you want, just take us home’ and he did,” said Tiu.
The University of the Philippines star fired a game-high 28 points highlighted by five triples on top of the win-sealing steal.
Desiderio said he is just motivated by his first finals appearance.
“I’m really eager to play because this is my first appear-ance in a finals series. I want to get the championship,” he said.
The 5-foot-10 shooting guard poured 22 points in the second half, helping Go For Gold overcome a 46-62 deficit early in the third quarter.
Desiderio shrugged off fatigue and went on to deliver huge baskets down the crunch time.
“He got tired and asked for a substitution. I said, I’ll just put you back’ and he made two huge three’s plus the layup. That’s all him. I will not take any credit for that,” said Tiu.
But Tiu was also quick to give credit to his teammates, saying they were hungrier than the Revellers in the second half.
“You have to give all the credit to the players. The only thing I told them at halftime is it’s a championship game,” he said. “They were outplaying us and we couldn’t make shots. But in the second half, we said that as long as you play defense, you’d start winning. The guys just made plays.”
“I have trust in them and they delivered,” he added. “This game was hard. We should have lost this if not for our players. We were lucky to have them.”
Gab Banal, the hero from last outing, struggled from the field but still managed to chip in 11 points, eight boards and six dimes while Vince Tolentino added 10 markers and five rebounds in the win.
Tiu drew at least three points from all but one of the 11 players he deployed.
The young hoops tactician is confident that the Scratchers will continue their winning ways in Game 4 on Tuesday.
“I hope this time that we are the ones who will take three wins in a row against Che’lu,” said Tiu, whose wards lost thrice to the Revellers this conference.
“I kept telling they guys that we were the better team—talent-wise, on paper.”
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA