EcoOil-La Salle cruised to an easy 84-62 blowout win over Centro Escolar U to open its title defense with flying colors in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
But even without Robinson, the Green Archers still proved to be too much to handle for CEU. La Salle uncorked a 32-14 avalanche in the second period and never looked back.
All but one of the 15 Green Archers made the scoring sheet led by Kevin Quiambao with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 22 minutes of action while Evan Nelle orchestrated the show with 14 assists that went with his seven rebounds, three points and as many steals.
Francis Escandor and Mark Nonoy carded 11 and 10 points, respectively, in La Salle's 22-point win to share the early lead first-game winner PSP.
"Actually, 'di namin iniisip na it has to be that way na parang we're defending the championship. We're trying to build something here, different culture. Syempre, marami pang adjusments but we're glad that we're able to play here para ma-address namin 'yung kailangan," said deputy mentor Gian Nazario.
Nazario took over from head coach Topex Robinson, who is currently in the United States scouting for talents.
Jerome Santos top scored with 15 points for the Scorpions, who are coming off a 14-0 championship sweep in the UCBL. He also had six rebounds and two steals.
Ayodeji Victor Balogun and Ron Rei Tolentino added 12 markers apiece for CEU. (JBU)
EcoOil-La Salle 84 - Quiambao 21, Escandor 11, Nonoy 10, Alao 7, Cortez 6, Nwankwo 5, Manuel 5, Abadam 4, M. Phillips 4, Nelle 3, Austria 3, David 2, B. Phillips 2 Macalalag 1, M. Reyes 0.
CEU 62 - Santos 15, Tolentino 12, Balogun 12, Joson 7, Pe?ano 4, Diaz 3, Borromeo 2, Cabotaje 2, Puray 2, Bernabe 2, R. Reyes 1, Javier 0, Ferrer 0, Malicana 0, Anagbogu 0.
Quarters: 17-10, 49-24, 64-44, 84-62.