The Centro Escolar University Scorpions moved closer to claiming a quarterfinals berth as they dispatched the Gamboa Coffee Lovers, 100-96, Monday afternoon at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Without Congolese big man Rod Ebondo, who is recovering from a battle with pneumonia, the Scorpions showed that they are ready for the playoffs, as the locals stepped up to secure their fifth victory in eight outings.
Rich Guinitaran was red-hot from beyond-the-arc, going 6-of-10 shooting on threes to top his side with 24 points.
“Kinausap namin siya at sinabi naming kailangang yung kumpyansa, sa kanya dapat mag-start,” said coach Yong Garcia of the sweet-shooting forward.
But it wasn’t just Guinitaran, as Orlan Wamar shot 4-of-7 from threes to collect 16 markers, to go with 11 assists and five rebounds.
Art Aquino chipped in 18 points, four boards, and three assists, while JK Casiño had 14 markers, three rebounds, and two dimes for CEU.
The Scorpions bucked their slow start, recovering from a 30-17 deficit before eventually getting back in the game and unfurling 38 points in the third period to take an 83-66 edge to finish the frame.
Gamboa tried to roar back into the game, slicing the lead to as low as three, 95-92, before Guinitaran delivered a killer trey with 37.7 ticks left to restore order and take the the 98-92 advantage for CEU.
Playing coach Leo Avenido topscored for the Coffee Lovers with 28 points on a 9-of-16 shooting from downtown, while Mike Parala got a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards.
Their efforts, though, went for naught as Gamboa dropped its seventh consecutive loss and fell down to a 1-7 slate.
CEU will take on the Cignal HD Hawkeyes in a titanic clash on Tuesday, July 25, at 5:00pm. Gamboa Coffee play their penultimate game against the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers on Monday, July 24, at 3:00pm.
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 (96) – Avenido 28, Parala 17, Cawaling 13, Acuña 11, Padilla 11, Montuano 10, Vidal 3, Acibar 2, Knuttel 1, Arellano 0, Dadjilul 0.
Quarterscores: 17-30, 45-47, 83-66, 100-96.