CENTRO Escolar University nearly blew a double digit lead but recovered to nip Marinerong Pilipino, 104-93, in their PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup opener on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Scorpions were enjoying a 91-79 lead early in the fourth period before the Skippers staged an uprising that got them to within five, 97-92.
That's when Judel Fuentes shone the brightest, hitting a dagger of a triple before sealing the match with a layup with 49 seconds to go.
It was Rod Ebondo, though, who kept the Scorpions afloat for the most part of the match with 31 points and nine rebounds.
Fuentes had 20 markers, while Joseph Manlangit added 19 including a pair of free throws with 1:59 left after Marinerong Pilipino trimmed the lead to five.
"Credit to the players kasi binigay nila best nila. Pero dami pa ring lapses. Nag-relax nung third. Mabuti nung fourth nag-focus sila sa aming game plan," said CEU coach Yong Garcia.
Rian Ayonayon put up 24 points, eight rebounds, and two assists for the Skippers, who fell to a 1-2 card.
Billy Robles and Renzo Subido chipped in 17 points each.
CEU 104 — Ebondo 31, Fuentes 20, Manlangit 19, Wamar 11, Arim 9, Guinitaran 8, Cruz 4, Aquino 2, Caballero 0, Intic 0, Saber 0, Veron 0.
MARINERONG PILIPINO 93 — Ayonayon 24, Subido 17, Robles 17, Toth 10, Tratter 6, Iñigo 6, Paredes 6, Banal 5, Pasaol 2, Babilonia 0, Lopez 0, Terso 0.
Quarterscores: 20-21, 55-41, 83-75, 104-93.