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PBA DL: Gamboa Coffee five off to winning start

Playing coach Leo Avenido drained two free throws with 3.1 seconds as Gamboa Coffee came back from a double-digit deficit to beat Zark’s Burger, 85-84, yesterday in a thrilling start to the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Avenido, the league’s oldest player at 38 and the only rookie coach from the 11 participating teams this conference, came through when it mattered most that allowed the Coffee Lovers to complete their comeback in a battle of two debuting teams.

The former PBA player and one-time ASEAN Basketball League Most Valuable Player finished with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in nearly 16 minutes for Gamboa Coffee.

“Ang hirap kasi di naman ako si Jawo,” said Avenido, referring to the same role popularized by Robert Jaworski during his playing days. “Pero yun yung binigay na task at sinubukan ko yung sarili ko kung kaya kong maiangat yung morale ng mga players.”

Ken Acibar had 17 points and seven rebounds while Jens Knuttel added 12 points, four assists and three rebounds to provide ample support for Avenido.

Robby Celiz fired 26 points but Zark’s Burger lost control of the game after it led by a high of 13 points in the second quarter, 31-18.

In the second game, Jeron Teng hit a game-winning basket with 4.3 seconds to lift Flying V past Aspirants Cup champion Cignal, 86-84.