OUR Lady of Fatima University clobbered St. Dominic College of Asia, 105-69, while Centro Escolar University crushed Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 71-58, to boost their chances in the 2014 MBL Open basketball championship at the PUP gym in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Adrian Gallardo scattered 20 points and four other mainstays also scored in double figures as the Phoenix, coached by former San Beda star Ralph Emerson Rivera, dominated the Red Pikes from start to finish en route to their fourth win in six matches in the seven-team tournament supported by Smart Sports, Ironcon Builders, Dickies Underwear, PRC Couriers, and Zucchero Cafe.
The Phoenix exploited their height advantage to the hilt and outscored the Red Pikes in all quarters for a huge 36-point winning margin -- the second biggest since their 87-61 win over elimination round topnotcher Sea Lions.
Gallardo struck hardest in the third quarter as he scored 12 of the Phoenix's 33 points that virtually put the game away.
Marty Frani and Sherwin Lao finished with 18 and 13 points, respectively, for the Red Pikes of comebacking coach Eric Samson.
CEU also relied on a balanced scoring attack to beat PUP and clinch its second straight win after three consecutive losses.
Sonny Saber, Erven Silverie, and African Aristote Mutombo combined for 37 points for the Scorpions, who controlled the tempo of the game to seal the win and keep the younger and smaller Stars winless in six outrings.
Mutombo, one of two African stars in the CEU line-up of coach Yong Garcia, also swatted away several PUP baskets in the second half.
Neljun Saldana finished with 16 points for PUP, which is competing in the league as part of its pre-season build-up under athletic director Renato Unso and coach Buboy Rodriguez.
MBL chairman Alex Wang said the top two teams after the elimination round will advance to the semis outright with twice-to-beat advantages.
The No. 3 team will then meet the No 6 squad and the No. 4 team will battle the No. 5 squad in a pair of knockout matches to determine the remaining two semifinalists.
The championship is a winner-take-all affair.
Fatima (105) -- Gallardo 20, Flores 15, Hubliko 13, Marquez 12, Jimenez 10, Villalon 8, Matignas 6, Jornacion 4, Del Rosario 4, Cabrera 3, Pineda 3, Cruz 3, D. Mallari 2, Moraga 2, Datu 0.
St. Dominic ( 69) -- Frani 18, Lao 13, Commandante 9, Del Rosario 6, Mopia 5, Sales 5, Aragon 4, Fondani 3, Domingo 3, De los Reyes 2, De Leon 1.
Quarterscores: 17-9, 41-23, 74-48, 105-69.
CEU (71) -- Saber 18, Silverie 12, Mutombo 7, Aranas 6, Gastador 6, De Leon 6, Tianga 6, Labiste 4, Kong 4, Alvendia 2, Dizon 0.
PUP (58) -- Saldana 16, Martinez 12, Are 10, Navor 8, Bondoc 5, Perez 5, Sta. Maria 2. Manden 0, Arrozal 0, Perez 0.
Quarterscores: 19-14, 32-26, 51-44, 71-58.