JUST how strong is Marinerong Pilipino?
Ask Karate Kid-Centro Escolar University, which bore the brunt of its foes’ might yesterday.
The Skippers ripped the Scorpions 93-57 to launch its title bid in emphatic fashion as the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup got going at The Arena in San Juan.
Speedy playmaker Juan and forward Javi Gomez de Liaño of University of the Philippines shone for Marinerong Pilipino in the absence of prized forward Jamie Malonzo, who sat out the match due to incomplete papers.
Juan Gomez scattered a game-high 21 points, on top of seven rebounds, and four assists, while his older brother Javi Gomez chipped in 18 markers, five boards, and a dime for the Skippers.
The De Liaño brothers opted to sit out the 83rd UAAP basketball tournament in September to train full-time with the Gilas Pilipinas national team training pool. Juan Gomez has two more years of eligibility, while Javi Gomez has one for the Fighting Maroons.
In the other game, EcoOil-La Salle gifted returning strategist Derrick Pumaren with a 102-90 drubbing of defending NCAA champion Wangs-Letran.
Guard Encho Serrano led the Green Archers with 19 points, eight caroms, and three feeds, while 6-foot-7 center Justine Baltazar wound up with a double-double of 16 and 12.
Playmaker Aljun Melecio also had 15 markers, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Guard Jordan Rios and guard-forward Dhon Reverente also added 15 and 13 points, respectively for Marinerong Pilipino.
“Masaya ako dahil sa ipinakita nila ngayon. Ang dami pa naming kulang, pero talagang binigyan ko iyong players ng go signal na i-enjoy iyong game,” said Skippers coach Yong Garcia.
“Masaya ako especially kay Juan dahil nag-take charge siya,” he added.
With the 6-foot-2 Juan Gomez leading Marinerong Pilipino’s early onslaught, the Skippers pulled away and built a 52-20 spread at the half and went into the payoff period with a commanding 71-37 advantage.
Marinerong Pilipino did not look back from there and stretched the difference to as high as 93-55 on a Jeffrey Manday jumper, only 1:15 left in the fourth.
Former Adamson University guard Jerie Pingoy paced the Karate Kid-CEU with 13 points, while former University of the East forward-center John Apacible had 10.
Six-foot-11 Senegalese big man Amadou NDiaye and sophomore guard Joshua David added 15 and 12, respectively for EcoOil-La Salle.