CENTRO Escolar University dodged a bullet from AMA Online Education, scoring an 86-77 victory to stay unscathed in the 2019 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Senegalese center Malick Diouf scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including the rim-rattling dunk with 37.3 ticks remaining, to put the nail in the coffin for the Scorpions and seize the top spot in Group A with 3-0 card.
Diouf also collected 23 rebounds, five assists and five blocks as CEU moved closer to a playoff spot.
"I think we just have to stay focused on our immediate goal, which is to make it to the next round or even make it to the top two," said coach Derrick Pumaren.
CEU faced a scare after Aaron Black brought AMA within one, 64-63 entering the fourth quarter.
But the Scorpions responded with a 14-4 binge that turned the tight affair to a 78-67 lead with 5:04 to play courtesy of a Rich Guinitaran jumper.
Pumaren, however, was dissatisfied with how CEU allowed AMA to fight back after holding a 17-point edge, 41-24, in the first half.
"We're not focused on what we’re doing right now. We're forcing a lot of shots, thinking about themselves, and that's not us. We should be able to stick to the system no matter what," he said.
Guinitaran got himself 16 points and two rebounds, Dave Bernabe registered a double-double with his 13 points and 11 boards, while Franz Diaz had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Aaron Black paced the skidding Titans with 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Luke Parcero had 17 points, six dimes, and five boards, as Vince Tolentino got 11 points and seven rebounds as AMA fell to a 1-3 slate.
CEU 86 - Diouf 18, Guinitaran 16, Bernabe 12, Diaz 10, Murillo 8, Abastillas 4, Tuadles 4, Escalona 3, Sunga 3, Santos 3, Tagal 2, De Ocampo 2.
AMA 77 - Black 21, Parcero 17, Tolentino 11, Santos 8, Paras 8, Fuentes 5, Alina 3, Catorce 2, Rodriguez 2, Asuncion 0, Estibar 0, De Leon 0, Saor 0, Germino 0, Martin 0.
Quarterscores: 21-12; 45-31; 64-63; 86-77.