Defending champion Centro Escolar University sent University of Batangas crashing back to earth with a 68-57 victory to closed in on a first-round sweep of the UCBL Season 2 at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.
Congolese center Rod Ebondo, despite sitting out majority of the second half due to an apparent knee injury, tallied a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds while big man Louis Baconcon and Orlan Wamar combined for 23 markers to help the Scorpions hold off the Brahmans.
More importantly, CEU streaked to its sixth straight win in as many starts and primed itself up for another titanic collision on Saturday, this time against third-running Diliman College, which carries a 5-1 mark.
“We will need him to be at his full strength (against Blue Dragons counterpart Adama Diakhite) so we didn’t force him to play in the second half,” said Scorpions coach Yong Garcia of the 6-foot-6 Ebondo, who hurt his left knee after a bad fall during a rebound battle against Brahmans counterpart Warlito Gotam at the 9:10 mark of the third period.
In the other match, the Olivarez College Sea Lions scored an 83-68 win over the TIP Engineers.
Noy Bermudes and Paulo Castro led the Sea Lions with a combined 34-point output and accounted for seven of the team’s 11 triples as Olivarez finished the first round elims with a 4-3 mark.
Jorey Napoles led all scorers with 19 points but TIP suffered its second consecutive setback and fifth overall against two wins, keeping itself at fifth spot.
The Brahmans tried their best to take advantage of the opportunity and threatened within five at 57-62 off Raoul Yemeli’s split charities with under three minutes left, but Baconcon and the Scorpions did enough on both ends to pull through.
Don Tabol and Aleksa Villegas tallied 11 points each to pace UB, which failed to come up with a fitting follow-up to its breakthrough win courtesy of a 79-77 stunner over Technological Institute of the Philippines last week and dropped to a 1-6 mark.
CEU 68 — Ebondo 15, Baconcon 12, Wamar 11, Uri 8, Guinitaran 7, Umeanozie 6, Demigaya 4, Caballero 2, Fuentes 2, Manlangit 1, Arim 0, Galinato 0.
UB 57 — Tabol 11, Villegas 11, Yemeli 10, Gotam 9, Caspe 7, Alade 5, Espiritu 2, Heidelburg 2, Arcilla 0, Castro 0, Clarion 0, Gabriel 0.
Quarters: 18-9, 34-20, 53-45, 68-57.
Olivarez 83 — Bermudes 17, Castro 17, Rabe 7, Saguiguit 7, Sunga 7, Solis 6, Uduba 6, Begaso 5, Lalata 3, Navarro 3, Almajeda 2, Prado 2, Geronimo 1, Elie 0.
TIP 68 — Napoles 19, Latu 12, Primo 9, Ramos 8, Soriano 8, Lara 7, Tan 3, Mallari 2, Manalang 0, Palisoc 0, Quiambao 0.
Quarters: 15-15, 41-29, 66-44, 83-68.