Centro Escolar University (CEU) shrugged off a poor start as it pulverized AMA Online Education, 118-83, to tighten its grip of the top spot in the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Aspirants’ Cup 2018 on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions erased an early 10-point deficit then began to pull away in the second quarter en route to a league-best 6-1 win-loss record.
“I’m happy with my players’ performance. At first, we’re still having our adjustments. But when we focused on our run, the result was good,” said CEU head coach Yong Garcia.
Rod Ebondo flirted with a double-double as the Congolese big man drilled in 27 points and nine rebounds while forward Art Aquino added 15 markers, four boards and three assists for the Mendiola-based squad, which also posted its third consecutive victory.
Judel Fuentes and Mishaal Veron chalked 12 points apiece while JJ Manlangit and Jayson Opiso contributed 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
Robbie Manalang finished with 23 points and Mark Andaya had a double-double of 19 markers and 12 rebounds for the Titans, who slid to a share of No. 10 with Jose Rizal University on similar 1-6 slates.
Trailing 10-20 in the early goings, Ebondo joined forces with Aquino and Veron to fire a combined 44 points as CEU cruised to a commanding 67-41 advantage at the break.
The Scorpions’ lead ballooned to 100-58 on Manlangit’s three-pointer at the 8:49 mark of the final frame virtually sealing the blowout win.
Earlier, Jerie Pingoy hit dagger triples as Akari-Adamson University fended off the pesky Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College, 89-79, to strengthen its hold of No. 2 and inch within the playoffs.
Pingoy sank three treys in the last 2:06 of the tightly contested ball game, lifting the Falcons to their second straight win and sixth overall against two losses.
“That’s the advantage of Pingoy. He’s willing to take the big shots,” said Akari-Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren.
Pingoy pumped in a game-high 23 points, pouring 11 of those in the payoff period, on top of eight assists and five rebounds while Jerrick Ahanmisi chipped in 16 markers.
Jerome Lastimosa tallied 11 points for Akari and Cameroonian center Papi Sarr scored all his 10 markers in the second half.
Cedrick De Joya scored 15 points, Jerome Garcia had 13 markers while Cedric Ablaza and Camillus Altamirano had 12 apiece for the Generals, who fell to the brink of elimination with a league-worst 1-7 slate.