EcoOil-La Salle gutted out a tough 79-73 squeaker over Karate Kid-CEU to earn its second win in the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup on Monday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Justine Baltazar showed the way for the Green Archers, collecting 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Ecooil-La Salle fend off repeated rallies by Karate Kid-CEU. He also had eight rebounds and five assists as the Green Archers picked up their second straight win and a share of the early lead.
"I think we know that nobody can stop Balti. We had to go to him every time sa kanya until CEU finds a way to stop it," said coach Derrick Pumaren of his starting center.
Baltazar turned things around for EcoOil-La Salle. He sparked a 10-2 run that turned a close wide open with 5:02 remaining.
Karate Kid-CEU charged back repeatedly but got no closer than four points, 74-70 on a basket by Tyrus Hill with 2:48 left.
"I'm quite disappointed with the way we played today, a lot of selfish plays. We didn't play the way we should play," lamented Pumaren as Green Archers allowed a 13-point first half lead to dissipate.
Encho Serrano added 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while Senegalese center Amadou Ndiaye had 10 points, 16 boards, two dimes, and two rejections. The two fouled out in the payoff period.
Karate Kid-CEU absorbed its second defeat in the tourney.
Justin Arana topscored for the Scorpions with 13 points and three rebounds, while Dave Bernabe had 10 points and six boards.
In the second game, Marinerong Pilipino escaped a tough stand from ADG Dong-Mapua on the way to an 83-69 victory.
Jamie Malonzo was impressive in his debut for the Skippers, finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six steals, four assists, and a block.
His performance more than made up for his s absence in the season opener while completing his citizenship documents to be eligible to play in the tournament.
Malonzo's trey with 3:38 remaining gave Marinerong Pilipino a 75-63 lead that practically took the fight out of ADG Dong-Mapua.
Juan Gomez de Liano also had a big game, scoring five of the Skippers' last six points and wound up with 18 points on a 4-of-10 shooting from long distance. He also had 11 rebounds and four assists
Alfred Batino scored 14 points and seven boards, and Dhon Reverente contributed nine points and five rebounds for the Skippers.
Marinerong Pilipino opened up a 17-point cushion, 55-38, behind a 15-0 run in the third quarter.
"Ang importante para sa amin, natapatan namin ang energy at effort ng Mapua," said Garcia.
Laurenz Victoria turned in 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists to show the way for the debuting Cardinals.
Builders Warehouse-UST cruised to its second win with a 106-93 trouncing of Diliman College in the first game.
UAAP MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo tallied 24 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks for the Growling Tigers, who assumed the early lead in the league's first conference.
Chabi Yo indeed spearheaded the Growling Tigers' 16-5 start, knocking down 5-of-10 from downtown as Builders Warehouse-UST seize a 37-18 lead.
The lead grew to as much as 30 points numerous times in the second half on the way to their second win in as many games.
The Growling Tigers shot 12-of-36 from threes overall, good for 33-percent.
Dave Ando turned in a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards, while Rhenz Abando tallied 13 points on a 3-of-9 clip from downtown. Deo Cuajao scored 11 points, and Zach Huang had 10 points and five rebounds.
Senegalese center Abdoulaye Niang led Diliman College with 30 points, 16 fourth quarter. He also had 16 rebounds.
Zeus Pedrosa poured 18 points, two boards, and two assists, while Robbi Darang got 13 points and 10 assists in the Blue Dragons' tough conference opener.