RICH Guinitaran scored 24 points as Centro Escolar University bucked the absence of Cameroonian Rod Ebondo to beat Gamboa Coffee Mix, 100-96, on Monday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Guinitaran hit 6 of 10 attempts from the three-point line as the Scorpions improved their record to 5-3.
The Scorpions struggled early without Ebondo, who is recovering from a bout of pneumonia, falling behind by 13 before finding their rhythm.
"That's our problem nung first half," said CEU coach Yong Garcia. "Talagang we started flat pero nung halftime, I just told them na kailangan natin maging aggresive para manalo sa game na 'to."
Pat Aquino had 18 points, while Orlan Wamar had 16 points and 11 assists, and JK Casino added 14 points as the CEU guards took charge.
Garcia also lauded the effort of CEU's bigs including McCoy Cruz, who had 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks including big shots in the endgame.
"I'm very thankful sa mga big man na they stepped up kahit wala si Ebondo. Talagang binigay nila 'yung best nila," said Garcia.
With the game tied at 88, Guinitaran buried a triple followed by a short jumper by Cruz to hand the Scorpions a 93-88 advantage. Guinitaran hit another three for a 98-91 lead with 37.7 seconds to play.
Playing coach Leo Avenido had 28 points for the Coffee Lovers, who slid to 1-7 and have lost their seventh straight game.
The Coffee Lovers failed to sustain a hot start when they took a 30-17 lead after the first 10 minutes of the match-up.
CEU 100 — Guinitaran 24, Aquino 18, Wamar 16, Casino 14, Cruz 10, Uri 8, Fuentes 6, Baconcon 3, Saber 2, Arim 0, Intic 0, Jeruta 0, Manlangit 0.
Gamboa Coffee — 96 - Avenido 28, Parala 17, Cawaling 13, Acuna 11, Padilla 11, Montuano 10, Vidal 3, Acibar 2, Knuttel 1, Arellano 0, Dadjilul 0.
Quarterscores: 17-30; 45-47; 83-66; 100-96.