Avenido nails winning free throws as Gamboa zaps Zark's in battle of D-League newbies

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—In his first foray as playing coach, Leo Avenido scored a win.

Thanks to him.

Avenido made the game-winning pair of free throws as Gamboa nosed Zark's, 85-84, at the start of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig on Thursday.

The former PBA and ABL veteran hit the charities with 3.1 seconds as the Coffee Lovers came back from 13 down to break down the Jawbreakers in their maiden game in the second-tier cagefest.

Zark's raced to a hot start, opening a 32-19 lead early into the second quarter.

But Gamboa slowly crawled back and took an 83-80 advantage with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Robby Celiz drained four straight free throws to put the Jawbreakers back up, 84-83, with 26.1 seconds left.

Val Acuña had his first chance to give the Coffee Lovers the lead back, but he misfired a three-point attempt.

Marcy Arellano grabbed the offensive rebound and quickly passed it to Avenido, who was fouled by James Mangahas, leading to the go-ahead freebies.

Celiz tried to win it for Zark's, but he missed the buzzer-beater.

The 38-year-old Avenido had a vintage performance, making 12 of his 15 points in the second half. He also had five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Ken Acibar led Gamboa with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Celiz finished with 26 points, nine rebounds, and three assists for Zark's.

Box Scores:
Gamboa 85-Acibar 17, Avenido 15, Knuttel 12, Acuna 9, Sarangay 8, Padilla 7, Vidal 7, Arellano 6, Jumao-as 2, Montuano 2, Riva 0, Dadjilul 0

Zark's 84-Celiz 26, Cayabyab 9, Mangahas 9, Argamino 8, Sheriff 8, De Leon 6, Ferrer 6, Bautista 5, Cudal 5, Juruena 2, Nalos 0

Quarterscores: 17-29, 34-46, 66-68, 85-84

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno