PASIG CITY – AMA University and KeraMix began the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup on a high note by blasting their respective opponents Thursday (March 12) at the Ynares Sports Arena. After failing to make the playoffs in the Aspirants Cup, both sides sent a strong message that they mean business this time.
The Titans of Coach Mark Herrera gave expansion club LiverMarin Guardians a rude welcome into the league with an 89-81 drubbing. Guard Jeremy King, who played for AMA only once in its final game last tournament, finally showed his true worth by scattering 15 markers in the first half alone and bull-strong Jay-R Taganas continued his domination of the inside including a three-point play that gave the Titans their biggest lead of the game, 45-24.
King and Taganas continued their superb play into the third period as their timely hits held off the Guardians’ repeated attempts to rally. A key 9-0 run capped by a Joseph Terso triple gave AMA a comfortable 63-46 edge late in the third.
Finally shaking off their opening day jitters albeit a bit too late, the Guardians of Coach Rodney Santos showed their offensive potential by unloading 32 points in the final period. While the Titans’ defense may have slackened, Marcy Arellano and Magi Sison put in the insurance baskets to stop any possible threats from the Guardians.
“We assembled a fighting team for this conference and we have a deeper bench now,” said Coach Herrera. “I like our chances and we are motivated because we had a good chance of making the playoffs last time but fell short.”
King did a yeoman’s job with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of play. Not to be outdone, Taganas submitted a monster double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds plus four steals in despite playing most of his 36 minutes in foul trouble.
Choi Ignacio and Leo de Vera, who both played for Tanduay Light last conference, paced the Guardians with 14 points each. LiverMarin is composed of the core of the San Sebastian College Stags.
In the second game, the name switch must have worked wonders for the former Racal Motors Alibaba as they jumped off the gates on all cylinders and never looked back in overwhelming the MP Hotel Warriors, 87-60. So dominating were the Mixers of Coach Carlos Garcia that they continuously pounded the Warriors and erected their biggest lead of the game with 3:25 left in the final period, 78-53, on a triple by Jeff Alvin Viernes.
A good start was all they needed, racing ahead after the first period, 23-6. Viernes immediately went to work with nine markers while new recruit Jiovani Jalalon came off the bench to sustain the attack and eventually ended the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 19 minutes of action.
Coach Garcia then unveiled a surprise package in Michael DiGregorio who scored all his 14 points in the third period via four triples. His fourth triple beat the third period buzzer, 73-41.
The Warriors paraded a revamped roster with the core of the Letran Knights and a new coach in Louie Gonzales. Despite the beating, the Warriors tried their best to pare down the final deficit behind Rey Nambatac and Mark Cruz.
Viernes also finished with four triples for 20 points in 19 minutes of play. Jamito and DiGregorio were next with 14 points with Jamito hauling 11 rebounds.
Nambatac topped the Warriors with 15 points, the only one in double digits. Jan Colina was next with eight points and four assists.
Six more teams will compete in the Foundation Cup. These are 2014-2015 Aspirants Cup champion Hapee Fresh Fighters, Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, CaféFrance Bakers, Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants and Tanduay Light Rhum Masters.
How They Scored:
AMA (89) – King 24, Taganas 19, Arellano 12, Terso 11, Maiquez 10, Sison 10, Tampus 3, Martinez 2, Diswe 0.
LIVERMARIN (81) – Ignacio 14, de Vera 14, Orutoste 10, Calisaan 9, Laude 9, de la Cruz 7, Rios 6, Balucanag 4, Ambohot 4, Costelo 3, Abad 1, Fabian 0, Santos 0.
Period Scores: 26-16, 47-34, 67-49, 89-81.
KERAMIX (87) – Viernes 20, DiGregorio 14, Jamito 14, Jalalon 12, Gabawan 8, Saitanan 4, Agovida 4, Ruaya 4, Canta 4, Gil 3, Ibay 0, Sinco 0, Robles 0.
MP HOTEL (60) – Nambatac 15, Colina 8, Cruz 7, Magat 7, Yaya 6, Quinto 4, Mendoza 4, Escosio 3, Luib 2, Custodio 2, Pacquiao 2, de la Pena 0.
Period Scores: 23-6, 41-19, 73-41, 87-60.