JUSTINE Baltazar scored 12 of his 20 points in the payoff period as EcoOil-La Salle hacked out a 79-73 win over Karate Kid-CEU on Monday in the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup at Paco Arena in Manila.
The Green Archers avoided a 13-point meltdown against the Scorpions in the second half, improving to 2-0 for a share of the early lead.
Baltazar buoyed EcoOil-La Salle after Karate Kid-CEU closed in within two, 62-60, with 9:11 remaining as the Archers went on a 10-2 blast to take a 72-62 lead with 5:02 remaining.
The Scorpions got to within four, 74-70, with 2:48 remaining but Tyrus Hill's layup and Baltazar's charities brought the lead back to eight, 78-70 with 1:51 left.
"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.
Baltazar also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists.
Encho Serrano got himself 18 points, five boards, two assists and two steals, while Senegalese center Amadou Ndiaye had 10 points, 16 rebounds, two dimes and two blocks before fouling out in the payoff period.
"I'm quite disappointed with the way we played today, a lot of selfish plays. We didn't play the way we should play," rued Pumaren.
Justin Arana carried the Scorpions with 13 points and three rebounds, as Dave Bernabe had 10 and six.
CEU suffered its second straight defeat to go down the cellar early in the tourney.
EcoOil-La Salle 79 - Baltazar 20, Serrano 18, Ndiaye 10, Melecio 7, Hill 7, Vales 6, Manuel 6, Lojera 5, Bartlett 0, Bates 0.
Karate Kid-CEU 73 -- Arana 13, Bernabe 10, Murrell 9, Apacible 8, Taladua 8, Guinitaran 8, Diaz 6, Sunga 6, Pingoy 3, Santos 2, Abastillas 0.
Quarterscores: 23-15; 49-38; 59-57; 79-73.