By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Thursday (Ynares Sports Arena)
1 p.m. — JRU vs Mila’s Lechon
3 p.m. — AMA vs Zark’s Burgers
5 p.m. — Akari vs Marinerong Pilipino
Flaunting a balanced offensive attack, Wang’s Basketball turned back AMA Online Education, 93-75, on Tuesday for an impressive debut in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Pasig City Sports Center.
Ace forward Bong Quinto dished out an all-around performance of 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while prized recruit Bonbon Batiller led their bench mob with 15 points as the Couriers’ offense proved too hot to handle for the Titans.
With the win, Wang’s Basketball, built around the core of NCAA contender Letran, earned a share of the early lead with Marinerong Pilipino, Go for Gold and Che’Lu Bar and Grill.
Mainstay JP Calvo added 12 points and eight rebounds while center Christian Fajarito and wingman Alex Mandreza combined for 21 points and 15 rebounds off the bench as they helped the Couriers turn things around after a slow start.
“Siyempre masaya kami sa naging resulta pero marami pa rin kailangang gawin,” said Wang’s Basketball coach Jeff Napa, who hardly missed the services of forward Jerrick Balanza who’s still recovering from a hamstring injury.
Michael Cañete finished with game-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds but he and the rest of the Titans, including Andre Paras who went scoreless, could not sustain a strong start in the face of the Couriers’ resurgence that started in the second period.
Quinto, Batiller, and Calvo took turns in leading Wang’s Basketball onslaught as they accounted for 20 of the team’s 28-point explosion, enabling them to turn an early four-point deficit into a 44-35 lead at the break.
Then the Couriers continued to put on the pressure over the fading Titans in the third, with Fajarito and Mandreza joining the fray with nine combined points as they took full advantage of their quickness and depth.
From there, AMA appeared to have waived the white flag as Wang’s Basketball built its biggest lead at 21 points thrice, the last off Quinto’s unmolested lay-up for an 84-63 advantage with 3:27 left to play.
“Nung simula excited ang mga bata na hindi ko alam. Pero nung nakuha na nila ‘yung rhythm nila, doon na naging maganda ang takbo namin,” said Napa, who got 54 points from his shocktroopers and saw the Couriers control the boards 67-44.
In the second game, Zark’s Burgers vented its ire on Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College, 112-75, on Tuesday to get its 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup title campaign going at the Pasig City Sports Center.
Top gun CJ Perez finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while skipper MJ Ayaay (15 and 10) and Cameroon big man Mike Nzeusseu also accounted for double-doubles each to help the Jawbreakers handle the erratic Generals with ease.
More importantly, Zark’s Burgers bounced back from a close 94-92 loss to Marinerong Pilipino in the opener last Thursday for an even 1-1 slate.
Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya tallied 16 points each for the Generals, who struggled to break the Jawbreakers’ vaunted defensive pressure as they turned the ball over 31 times which their rivals translated to 35 points.
“We have adjusted to everything—from the calls to the teams that we’re playing with,” said Zark’s Burgers coach Topex Robinson, satisfied with how his wards performed especially in the second half where they showcased their potent defense-to-offense attack.
WANGS BASKETBALL-LETRAN 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.
AMA ONLINE EDUCATION 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.
Quarters: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75
ZARK’S Jawbreakers-LYCEUM 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.
BATANGAS-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.
Quarters: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.