Centro Escolar University didn’t really need Rod Ebondo to escape Gamboa Coffee Mix, 100-96, Monday in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
With the Congolese big man recovering from a battle with pneumonia, Rich Guinitaran stepped up for the Scorpions as he unloaded 24 points on a 6-of-10 shooting from threes to help his side improve to 5-3.
“We really talked to him and told him that his confidence must start from himself,” said coach Yong Garcia of Guinitaran.
Orlan Wamar also found his stroke from the outside as he shot 4-of-7 from downtown to wound up with 16 markers, on top of 11 assists and five rebounds.
Art Aquino added 18 points, four boards, and three assists, while JK Casiño nabbed 14 markers, three rebounds, and two dimes in the victory.
CEU dug itself from a 30-17 first quarter hole and went on a rampage in the third quarter, unleashing 38 points in the frame to take an 83-66 lead.
The Coffee Lovers, though, roared back and cut the lead to as low as three, 95-92, before Guinitaran drilled a dagger triple from the left corner with 37.7 seconds left to put the game away.
Leo Avenido topped Gamboa with 28 points on a 9-of-16 shooting from threes. His scintillating sniping from downtown was the most since James Martinez fired 10 treys to nab the PBA D-League record for most points with 58 back in the 2016 Foundation Cup.
Mike Parala had a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards, and JR Cawaling shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc to claim 13 points and four rebounds in the losing effort.
The defeat was the Coffee Lovers’ seventh straight defeat to drop down to a 1-7 record.
CEU 100 – Guinitaran 24, Aquino 18, Wamar 16, Casiño 14, Cruz 10, Uri 8, Fuentes 6, Baconcon 2, Saber 2, Arim 0, Intic 0, Jeruta 0, Manlangit 0.
GAMBOA COFFEE MIX 96 – Avenido 28, Parala 17, Cawaling 13, Acuña 11, Padilla 11, Montuano 10, Vidal 3, Acibar 2, Knuttel 1, Arellano 0, Dadjilul 0.
Quarters: 17-30, 45-47, 83-66, 100-96.