ECOOIL-La Salle gutted out a tough 79-73 squeaker over Karate Kid-CEU to earn its second win in the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup on Monday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Justine Baltazar showed the way for the Green Archers, collecting 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Ecooil-La Salle fend off repeated rallies by Karate Kid-CEU. He also had eight rebounds and five assists as the Green Archers picked up their second straight win and a share of the early lead.
"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 of his starting center.
Baltazar turned things around for EcoOil-La Salle. He sparked a 10-2 run that turned a close wide open with 5:02 remaining.
Karate Kid-CEU charged back repeatedly but got no closer than four points, 74-70 on a basket by Tyrus Hill with 2:48 left.
"I'm quite disappointed with the way we played today, a lot of selfish plays. We didn't play the way we should play," lamented Pumaren as Green Archers allowed a 13-point first half lead to dissipate.
Encho Serrano added 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while Senegalese center Amadou Ndiaye had 10 points, 16 boards, two dimes, and two rejections. The two fouled out in the payoff period.
Karate Kid-CEU absorbed its second defeat in the tourney.
Justin Arana topscored for the Scorpions with 13 points and three rebounds, while Dave Bernabe had 10 points and six boards.
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.
Quarters: 23-15, 49-38, 59-57, 79-73.