THE MENDIOLA-BASED squad were hailed as runner-ups after failing to capture gold against ECOOIL-La Salle last June 26 at the Ynares Sports Arena in the preseason PBA D-League. 

The Red Lions failed to end the Green Archers’ streak in Game 2 as De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers retained the championship with a lead of 89-74, respectively. 

For Game 1, the Red Lions opened the third quarter with a huge run courtesy of Jacob Cortez, AJ Royo, and James Payosing. 

Payosing through a free throw, helped the team to cut the deficit to 14 with a score of 68-54. 

Cortez and Cuntapay tried to bring back the life to the Red Lions as they throw a big three-pointers with a score of 88-73.  

As for their quick start in the third quarter, the team, unfortunately, failed to get the advantage due to the quick response of the Green Archers. 

In the end, the ‘Cool Cub’ Cortez lead the Red Lions with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists while Cuntapay scored 16 points. And on the other hand, Payosing and Royo also scored a double-digit 13 points. 

A hard-fought match for the team in Game 2 as they fought back from a nine-point deficit with three minutes on the clock in the second quarter courtesy of JV Gallego’s shots which led the team in 42-40 points. 

Despite not getting the gold the Red Lions fought back courtesy of Yukien Andrada with a lead of 15 points off the bench. Meanwhile, Cuntapay and Payosing both scored 12 points. 

Additionally, the ‘Cool Cub’ Cortez was also one of the leading candidates for the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Most Valuable Player award.  

Before heading on to the finals, the Marineros went on against Wangs Basketball @27 Strikers-Letran to eliminate the team with a lead of 79-65. 

The game ended with Payosing leading the team with 23 points. Cuntapay also scored 11 points as well as Andrada who garnered 10 points. 

Before the finals between the two teams, a Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) forum was held in which former San Beda Player Ralph Penuela stated that the team is going to the finals with a mindset of an underdog.  

Kaya we’re coming in this finals with the mindset of an underdog kasi sobrang laking bagay nung Philips sa roster ng La Salle. Yung energy na binibigay nila, yung leadership na nai-imbibe nila sa team,” Penuela mentioned during the conference. 

Going back, the Red Lions defeated the Green Archers in their only match in the eliminations, 82-79, with the win by Peter Alfaro. 

(With Mauri Fernandez)

Photo courtesy of the Red Lions