By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Today (JCSGO Gym, Cubao)
2 p.m. – Go for Gold vs Perpetual Help
4 p.m. – Che’Lu Bar and Grill vs Akari
New recruits Arvin Tolentino and James Martinez made an immediate impact yesterday as AMA Online Education survived Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College’s last-ditch fightback, 96-93, for a breakthrough victory in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.
Guard Robbie Manalang sizzled with a tournament-high 40 points, spiked with eight triples, but it was the Titans’ three prized acquisitions who made the big plays on both ends down the stretch that enabled them to hold off the Generals’ searing rally in the final period.
Martinez tallied 18 points, capped by an insurance free throw with 9.9 seconds left, while the 6-foot-5 Tolentino hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds on top of six points, three steals and three assists, doing enough to fill the void left by injured big man Andre Paras.
“Kumuha talaga kami ng mga scorers. Kasi ‘pag si Robbie minamalas, wala ng gusto umiskor. Hindi tulad ngayon na may ibang options like sina James, Arvin and Kyles (Lao),” said Titans Coach Mark Herrera. It was AMA’s first win in four games.
Skipper Cedric de Joya finished with 21 points for EAC while big man Cedric Ablaza tallied 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals that all went for naught as the Generals remained empty-handed after four outings.
Batangas, however, didn’t go down without a fight. Down, 54-26, the Generals scraped and clawed their way back behind Jerome Garcia’s 13-point explosion, pulling within 95-93 with 11.0 seconds left.