Centro Escolar University (CEU) bucked a slow start and turned back Gamboa Coffee Mix, 100-96, in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions survived the Coffee Lovers’ strong start and slowly crawled back in the game to keep their playoffs bid alive with a 5-3 win-loss slate.
Rich Guinitaran starred for CEU with 24 points as the Scorpions bounced back from a tough loss after seeing their four-game winning streak snapped by Flying V last week, 79-91.
Art Patrick Aquino scattered 18 markers and four rebounds while Orlan Wamar Jr. unleashed a double-double performance of 16 points and 11 assists for CEU.
“We talked to him (Guinitaran) that we need the confidence which will come from him. And we are happy that he was able to lead the team,” said coach Yong Garcia, who missed the service of Congolese big man Rod Ebondo.
Ebondo sat out the match as he’s recovering from pneumonia.
Without their starting center, the Scorpions started slow and trailed by as much as 13 points after the first period, 17-30.
Garcia’s wards stormed back in the second quarter and slice the big lead to 45-47 entering the break.
Wamar anchored CEU’s third quarter surge as the Scorpions built an 83-66 advantage with 17 seconds left in that stage.
But the Coffee Lovers banked on their playing-coach Leo Avenido, who fired six straight points to cut the lead to 86-79 with 5:39 remaining in the game.
Avenido continued to rally his team back and his three-pointer tied the game for the last time at 88-all with 3:12 left.
But the Scorpions responded with a decisive 10-3 run to get the needed separation, 98-91, 39 ticks remaining.
Avenido and Gamboa Coffee refused to quit and threatened at 96-99 but Wamar sealed the victory with a split from the charity lane.
Avenido topscored for the Coffee Lovers with 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field while Mike Parala and JR Cawaling added 17 and 13 markers, respectively.
Val Acuna and Alvin Padilla contributed 11 points each for the Gamboa Coffee, which dropped at the bottom with 1-7 slate.