PASIG CITY – With the game on the line, playing coach Leo Avenido decided to take matters into his own hands as the keyed Gamboa Coffee Mix’s thrilling 85-84 escape against fellow expansion team Zark’s Burger in the opening game of the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (May 25) at the Ynares Sports Arena. Avenido sank two free throws off a James Mangahas foul with three seconds left in the game for the winning points.
The coach’s heroics completed the Coffee Lovers’ rally from 13 points down early in the second period, 19-32, prompting him to insert himself into the action for the first time. The 38-year old Avenido finished with a total of 15 points on top of two assists and two steals in 17 minutes on the floor.
“I know it’s hard but it was the task given to me and I am not a (Robert) Jaworski,” said Avenido referring to the legendary PBA playing coach. “On the team, we are all coaches and we are open to anyone’s suggestions.”
Kenneth Acibar was the high man for Gamboa with 17 points and seven rebounds. “It was not intentional that the ball landed on my hands during the crucial stage of the game, as a veteran I had to handle the ball and take the shot,” added Coach Avenido.
Robby Celiz tried to win the game for Zark’s but his triple attempt at the buzzer missed. He ended up with a game-high 26 points but none of his teammates hit twin digits.
Celiz put his side on top for the last time on two free throws off Avenido’s second foul at the 26-second mark, 84-83. Val Acuna then attempted but missed with Marcy Arellano collaring the offensive rebounds and kicking it out to Acuna who then issued a drop pass to the waiting Avenido for the winning moment.
How They Scored:
GAMBOA COFFEE (85) – Acibar 17, Avenido 15, Knuttel 12, Acuna 9, Sarangay 8, Vidal 7, Padilla 7, Arellano 6, Montuano 2, Jumao-as 2, Riva 0, Dadjilul 0.
ZARK’S BURGER (84) – Celiz 26, Cayabyab 9, Mangahas 9, Sheriff 8, Argamino 8, de Leon 6, Ferrer 6, Bautista 5, Cudal 5, Juruena 2, Nalos 0.
Period Scores: 17-29, 34-46, 66-68, 85-84.