Rod Ebondo imposed his will to carry the Centro Escolar University Scorpions to a tight 72-70 victory over Team Batangas for their breakthrough win, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Congolese center dominated in the paint and saved his biggest plays in the final minute, scoring the go-ahead putback with 18.1 seconds to play to push the Scorpions up, 71-70, before blocking Joseph Sedurifa’s potential game-winner in the waning seconds to give coach Yong Garcia his first win in the PBA D-League.
“Wala na kong masabi kay Rodrigue. Talagang all-out siya para sa amin,” said Garcia, who was taking over from
Ebondo unleashed a monster double-double of 26 points and 22 rebounds, to go with his six blocks, as CEU improved to a 1-2 slate.
Christian Uri chipped in 10 markers, Orlan Wamar got nine points and five boards, and Art Aquino registered eight markers and five rebounds to aid Ebondo in the win, despite the Scorpions losing hold of a 58-50 edge early in the payoff period.
Cedrick Ablaza and Jessie Saitanan led the late rally, which even gave Batangas a 70-68 advantage with 1:11 to play, but CEU clamped down on defense behind Ebondo as they denied the Batangueños any crack at the basket.
Ablaza pumped 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists, while Saitanan had 12 markers and two boards in Batangas’ first loss of the tourney.
CEU look to maintain their momentum when they face the listless Zark’s Jawbreakers on Thursday, June 22, at 5:00pm. Batangas, on the other hand, take on the AMA Online Education Titans earlier that day at 3:00pm.
CEU (72) – Ebondo 26, Uri 10, Wamar 9, Aquino 8, Intic 6, Casiño 4, Jeruta 3, Arim 2, Cruz 2, Manlangit 2, Guinitaran 0.
Batangas (70) – Ablaza 16, Saitanan 12, Sedurifa 9, Bautista 8, De Joya 8, Dela Peña 7, Isit 4, Laude 4, Ragasa 2, Anderson 0, Mag-isa 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarterscores: 23-13, 37-33, 56-50, 72-70.