MANILA, Philippines – The EcoOil-La Salle Green Archers gave head coach Derrick Pumaren a fitting return to Taft with a 102-90 blowout win over reigning NCAA champions Wangs-Letran Knights to open the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Monday, March 2.
"Manong" Derrick showcased his team's depth in his return to the UAAP as 5 Archers reached double digit in scoring, led by Encho Serrano's 19 points off the bench with 8 rebounds.
Veteran big man Justine Baltazar chipped in a 16-marker, 12-board double-double, while Aljun Melecio added 15 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.
"I'm glad we came out winning this ball game, but we're still far from the form that I want them," Pumaren said after the game. "We've been making mistakes defensively, fouling a lot, and I've been trying to correct them, saying we've had too many fouls."
"We've only practiced for 6 to 7 weeks, so it's a long way to go for us."
Although EcoOil-La Salle led by as many as 19, 53-34, late in the 2nd quarter, Wangs-Letran steadily chipped away at the deficit until Fran Yu flung an alley-oop pass to Ato Ular to get within 6, 78-84, midway through the final frame.
However, the Archers stayed composed and responded with an 8-2 run to get back up to 12, 92-80, after a Joshua David layup at the four-minute mark.
La Salle never looked back from there as Melecio drove home the dagger trey for the 97-84 gap with 1:05 to spare.
Yu, the reigning NCAA Finals MVP, led all scorers in the losing cause with 24 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals off the bench.
In the second game of the day, the stacked Marinerong Pilipino Skippers made quick work of the Karate Kid-CEU Scorpions, 93-57.
Even without Filipino-American forwards Jamie Malonzo, James Laput, and Julian Sargent, the Gilas Pilipinas brotherly duo of Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano were more than enough to put away the rebuilding Scorpions squad.
Fresh off his debut stint with the national team, Juan erupted for 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists with no turnovers in just 18 minutes, while Javi backstopped his younger brother with 18 markers and 5 boards on a 12-of-12 clip from the free throw line.
Taking full advantage of the Scorpions' ice-cold opening quarter, the Skippers established control with a 20-7 lead as Karate Kid-CEU shot a horrendous 1-of-18 clip in the first 10 minutes.
The game was a full-fledged blowout from then on as Marinero stretched the lead to as big as 38 points, 71-33, off back-to-back Dhon Revenrente layups late in the 3rd period, while the final frame went straight to garbage time.
EcoOil-La Salle 102 - Serrano 19, Baltazar 16, Melecio 15, David 12, Ndiaye 12, Manuel 9, Hill 6, Bartlett 6, Vales 5, Cu 2, Bates 0.
Wangs-Letran 90 - Yu 24, Rocacurva 15, Ular 13, Mina 12, Reyson 9, Javillonar 8, Ambohot 4, Brutas 3, Guarino 2, Pambid 0, Ariar 0, Monje 0, Banez 0.
Quarters: 24-15, 55-40, 75-63, 102-90.
Marinerong Pilipino 93 - Ju. Gomez de Liano 21, Ja. Gomez de Liano 18, Rios 15, Reverente 13, Manday 8, Senining 6, Batino 4, Fuentes 2, Santos 2, Mangahas 2, Serrano 2, Solis 0.
Karate Kid-CEU 57 - Pingoy 13, Apacible 10, Guinitaran 8, Bernabe 7, Arana 4, Intic 4, Diaz 3, Murrell 2, Taladua 2, Sunga 2, Carandang 2, Santos 0, Abastillas 0, Tagal 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarters: 20-7, 52-20, 71-37, 93-57.