Marinerong Pilipino proved why it is regarded as one of the conference's favorites, whipping AMA Online Education, 95-83, at the start of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Jorey Napoles orchestrated the opening day win with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks as the Skippers started their campaign on a good note.
Also helping Marinerong Pilipino's cause were Trevis Jackson, who collected 13 points, three boards, and three assists, and Franky Jackson, who finished with 13.
Fielding in a revamped roster wasn't a problem at all for coach Koy Banal as the TIP Engineers core perfectly meshed with his top guys like Jackson, Javi Gomez de Llano, and Robbie Manalang.
"The players didn't have a tough time adjusting. They know each other and although they are young, what we have is a solid team," he said.
The Skippers matched everyone's expectations as they dominated the Titans down low, winning the battle of the boards, 73-43, as well as grabbing 21 offensive boards that led to 30 second chance points.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, also, that it helped Marinerong Pilipino jump ahead, 49-30 at the half, and even erected 21-point advantages at numerous points in the third frame.
Irvin Palencia carried AMA with 18 points, six assists, and three rebounds in the defeat.
In the second game, Go for Gold held off a late flurry by Batangas and came away with an 88-75 victory.
James Martinez' 18 points allowed the Scratchers to build a 19-point wall in the third quarter, 63-44, enough to withstand the Generals' late flurry that cut the lead down to as low as 11, 80-69.
Ron Dennison added 10 points and five boards, Gab Banal wound up with nine points and 12 rebounds, and Jerwin Gaco got nine and eight.
Coach Charles Tiu, however, remains unsatisfied with how his team performed noting that Go for Gold pulled the win through because of the players' individual talents.
"It's probably only our fourth time to play as a complete team and we haven't been practicing because of the individual commitments of the players," he said.
"We know what we can do. Unfortunately, we're still far from that. It's a given that we have the talent in this team, so the challenge for us is to have more practice time to get familiar with each other and learn to play the proper way."
The Scratchers exploited their depth, ruling the bench production, 48-26.
Cedric de Joya scored 18 points for Batangas. He also had three rebounds, and two assists.
MARINERONG PILIPINO 95 -- Napoles 25, Jackson 13, Johnson 13, Gomez de Lia?o 11, Ndiaye 11, Manalang 6, Thiele 6, Medina 4, Matignas 2, B. Santos 2, Soriano 2, Ramos 0, I. Santos 0, Toth 0.
AMA ONLINE EDUCATION 83 -- Palencia 18, Liwag 17, Garcia 16, Graham 11, Lao 6, Marata 4, Matillano 4, Alao 3, Barde 2, Nacpil 2, Alvarez 0, Cariaga 0, Sabile 0, Soriano 0.
Quarters: 18-13, 49-30, 77-56, 95-83.
GO FOR GOLD 88 -- Martinez 18, Dennison 10, Banal 9, Gaco 9, Porter 8, Desiderio 7, Reyes 7, Salem 6, Tolentino 6, Wong 5, Pili 3, Blardony 0, Castor 0.
BATANGAS 75 -- De Joya 18, Mendoza 13, Derige 12, Saldana 12, Dela Pe?a 6, Guian 6, Diolanto 4, Arim 2, Tabi 2, Delfinado 0, Manalo 0, Zamora 0.
Quarters: 19-17, 37-30, 63-47, 88-75.