Leo Avenido imposed his veteran presence as he anchored the Gamboa Coffee Lovers to an 85-84 thriller over the Zark’s Jawbreakers in the opener of the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The 38-year-old, who was acting as the Coffee Lovers’ playing coach, drilled the go-ahead free throw with 3.1 seconds remaining to push his side up one, before their defense suffocated Robby Celiz’ potential game-winner late.
“Ang hirap kasi di naman ako si Jawo,” he said in jest, as his herculean effort evoked memories of the days of legendary Ginebra playing coach Robert Jaworski. “Pero yun yung binigay na task at sinubukan ko yung sarili ko kung kaya kong maiangat yung morale ng mga players.”
Avenido fired 12 of his 15 points in the second half, where Gamboa Coffee Mix battled back from a 13-point hole, 32-19 in the second period. He also got five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the victory.
Ken Acibar unfurled 17 markers and seven boards, while Jens Knuttel chipped in 12 points, four dimes, and three rebounds as the Coffee Lovers woke up from their early struggles and went on a 32-point third quarter to close in and set up the nip-and-tuck battle late.
Celiz led the Jawbreakers with 26 points on a 10-of-25 shooting from the field, while also hauling down nine rebounds and three assists.
Gamboa Coffee will have a tough task in their next outing when they face the Flying V Thunder on Monday, June 6 at 3:00pm. Zark’s, on the other hand, takes on the Cignal HD Hawkeyes on the same day at 5:00pm.
Gamboa Coffee (85) – Acibar 17, Avenido 15, Knuttel 12, Acuna 9, Sarangay 8, Padilla 7, Vidal 7, Arellano 6, Jumao-as 2, Montuano 2, Riva 0, Dadjilul 0.
Zark’s (84) – Celiz 26, Cayabyab 9, Mangahas 9, Argamino 8, Sheriff 8, De Leon 6, Ferrer 6, Bautista 5, Cudal 5, Juruena 2, Nalos 0.
Quarterscores: 17-29, 34-46, 66-68, 85-84.