Rich Guinitaran erupts for 18 in 2nd period as CEU halts Perpetual comeback
MANILA, Philippines – The top-ranked Centro Escolar University (CEU) Scorpions maintained a tight grip on first place in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup with a nail-biting 90-85 victory over the scrappy University of Perpetual Help (UPH) Altas in the JCSGO Gym, Cubao on Tuesday, March 13.
Star Scorpion Rod Ebondo dominated as usual from tip-off, scoring 11 of the team’s 23 first quarter points while the Altas dropped 19 of their own.
However, the narrative changed by the second quarter as reserve CEU swingman Rich Guinitaran went hot with three-point fever. In a span of 5 minutes, Guinitaran went fully automatic from deep, nailing 4/4 triples en route to 18 points in the second quarter. In comparison, Perpetual as a team only scored two more points than Guinitaran as they entered halftime with a 10-point deficit, 39-49.
By the third, Guinitaran still had leftover heat and again led CEU in scoring with 7 points, including one more three-pointer. The Altas failed to make the necessary stops and still trailed the Scorpions 60-72 entering the final frame.
With more than half of the fourth period gone, Perpetual star Prince Eze threw down an angry alley-oop flush to cut the deficit to 14, 66-80. Little did he know that it would spark a massive fire under his teammates, particularly former UE guard Edgar Charcos. The diminutive floor general had himself a Rich Guinitaran quarter of his own, leading the Altas to a huge 21-5 run to tie the game at 83. In the following possession, Eze was left wide open for the go-ahead midrange splash, 85-83.
However, the Altas would commit costly mistakes just as the Scorpions were making timely stops. After Eze blew two potentially game-saving free-throws, Ebondo on the other end would make his charities. As a result, CEU came away on top of the free-throw battle, 88-85. With a chance to send the game to overtime, Charcos slipped and fumbled the ball to CEU’s hands. Joseph Manlangit then sealed the game for good with two penalty shots, denying Perpetual a massive upset win.
Despite blanking in the fourth, Guinitaran still led the way with 27 points on 11/15 (73%) shooting and 5/6 (83%) from downtown. Ebondo contributed his usual double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds while Manlangit had himself a game as well with 16 points, 7 boards and 3/3 triples. Meanwhile, Eze anchored the Altas with 23 points and a game-high 17 boards while Charcos chipped in 22 markers of his own, 13 coming in the fourth quarter alone.
CEU (90) – Guinitaran 27, Ebondo 22, Manlangit 16, Fuentes 6, Wamar 5, Aquino 5, Cruz 4, Arim 3, Caballero 2, Opiso 0, Saber 0, Veron 0
UPH (85) – Eze 23, Charcos 22, Aurin 14, Villanueva 9, Pido 4, Mangalino 4, Coronel 4, Peralta 4, Pascia 0, Tamayo 0
Quarter Scores: 23-19, 49-39, 72-60, 90-85
STANDINGS (as of March 13, 2018)
Marinerong Pilipino 6-2
Gamboa-St. Clare 3-2
Go For Gold-CSB 5-5