WITH former Ateneo guard Aaron Black doing a bit of everything, AMA Online Education realized a lofty goal in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup yesterday.
The Titans dumped the also-ran Hazchem Green Warriors 133-90 to clinch a quarterfinals slot in Group A of the season-ending tourney at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The 6-foot-2 Black wound up with a triple-double anew of 45 points, 12 rebounds, and 18 assists while Dennis Santos chipped in 20 markers and 10 boards for the Titans.
Black tied Jeron Teng for the most number of triple-double performances in D-League play with three that also marked the sixth-highest scoring game in league history.
In the other game, Asia’s Lashes Tomas Morato carved out a nail-biting 72-70 squeaker over iWalk to bag a quarterfinals berth.
James Castro played the hero’s role for the Soldiers, scoring on a layup in the final 46 ticks that proved to the winning basket.
Axel Inigo had the chance to win the game for the Chargers but missed on a last-gasp floater attempt at the buzzer.
Castro scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds, and issued two assists while Jerson Delfinado also had 13 for the Soldiers, who finished their elims campaign with a 4-2 slate.
The sorry defeat sent iWalk packing with a 2-4 record.
Luke Parcero, Alvin Fuentes, and Michael De Leon also had 18, 11, and 11 points, respectively as AMA Online Education ended the eliminations with an even 3-3 card for fourth. Hazchem finished the tourney with a 1-5 record.
AMA Online Education coach Mark Herrera heaped praises on Black, his former player in the RP Youth Under-13 team (now known as Batang Gilas).
“Si Aaron (Black) siguro hindi nabigyan ng chance noon pero kilala ko iyang batang iyan noon pa,” said Herrera.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya na siya ang inaasahan ng team pero tinutulungan pa rin siya ng teammates niya, so team effort pa rin,” he added.
The Titans broke the game wide-open early on and took a 54-30 spread at the half and still enjoyed an 86-50 bulge going into the payoff period.
Fran Asuncion gave AMA Online Education its biggest lead at 130-83 off a Black dime, only 34 seconds left.
Raymark Matias paced Hazchem with 28 points while Alexander Mohammad and Marvin Morraga added 13 and 10, respectively.
“Sabi ko sa kanila bawal matalo dahil kapag natalo kami, meron kaming chance na matanggal,” said Soldiers coach Alvin Grey. “Ngayon na nanalo okay na, kaso masyado silang nagre-relax.”