By Rob Andrew Dongiapon

Adalem-St. Clare pounded on the University of Santo Tomas’ costly errors down the stretch before escaping with a 90-87 win to occupy the final PBA D-League semifinal seat inside Smart Araneta Coliseum, Wednesday morning.


In what felt like another blitzkrieg mauling of the Tigers after three quarters, the Saints clamped down in the fourth and turned a 61-63 cushion to a 75-63 Adalem edge with six minutes left.

That 13-0 run - stemming from multiple faults from the Tigers - proved to be the turning point until a last-minute gasp from UST chopped the lead to three thanks to Kean Baclaan’s layup and St.Clare’s five-second violation.

The Tigers, however, ultimately succumbed to the Saints in the final sequence as St. Clare’s defense forced Baclaan to a halfcourt hail mary that hit nothing but the backcourt as the final buzzer sounded.

Johnscherick Estrada carried the cudgels for St. Clare, firing 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists to set up a semifinal clash with De La Salle University on Friday.

"Hats off to UST. I know they will play hard and they know how to win already. Kami naman, yung veterans namin with Joshua, Rojas, we just told them that we have to perform this time," said St. Clare head coach Jinino Manansala. Manansala also served as UST's mentor during the previous UAAP season and was a longtime member of the Tigers' coaching staff.

Also a former Tiger, Joshua Fontanilla chipped in 12 markers, seven boards, and seven assists for the Saints while Jolo Sumagaysay added 14 on timely baskets off the bench.

Nic Cabanero led the way for the Tigers with 19 points, six rebounds, and three steals, almost powering a UST squad to the Final Four of the tournament despite starting on a 0-6 slate. Baclaan added 17 points, five assists, four boards, and three steals as the Espana-based crew wrapped up its campaign.