May 02, 2024

CEU smothers Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, makes Finals

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda had no answer for Abdul-Wahab Olusesi and Centro Escolar University pulled away for a 78-56 victory in the deciding Game 3 Thursday night to earn the right to face two-time defending champion EcoOil-La Salle in the Finals of the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The Scorpions broke the game open early, storming to a 21-point advantage at the half then repelled a late rally by the Red Lions to complete the stunning triumph that many thought was a longshot.

In the process, CEU spoiled a rematch between fancied bets La Salle and San Beda while making their third Finals appearance in the league. The Scorpions finished runner-up in the 2017 Foundation Cup and in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup.

CEU and La Salle begin their best-of-three titular showdown on Monday (7:30 p.m.) at the Filoil EcoOil Center in San Juan.

"Every time you beat a team like San Beda, 'yung feeling na syempre they're one of the top collegiate programs in the country and CEU is just outside of the UAAP and the NCAA," said coach Jeff Perlas.

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"It's really a big morale-booster not just for the players but also for the entire CEU community."

Team captain Franz Ray Diaz scored 13 points in the first half to set the tone of the breakaway. He finished with a team-high 21 points along with three rebounds and four assists.

To make matters worse, The Red Lions couldn't handle Olusesi, who repeatedly imposed himself in the middle for rebounds and dunks. He tallied 15 points and grabbed a total 28 rebounds (nine offensive boards) and three blocks.

CEU also got solid contribution from Daniel Marcelo and Jerome Santos who tallied 14 and 10 points, respectively.

CEU won Game 1 75 -71 but Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda bounced back in Game 2 to even the series forced the sudden death.

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San Beda made a run in the third quarter but got no closer than 11 points at 41-52 as Olusesi took a breather.

Jomel Puno scored a game-high 23 points to show the way for San Beda but the only other Red Lion in double-digit was Bryan Sajonia with 12. (JBU)

The Scores:

CEU 78 - Diaz 21, Olusesi 15, Marcelo 14, Santos 10, Puray 8, Darbin 8, Bernabe 2, Guevarra 0, Mendoza 0, Gamboa 0.

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda 56 - Puno 23, Sajonia 12, Payosing 5, Andrada 5, Gonzales 4, Songcuya 3, Calimag Jr 2, Royo 2, Calimag RC 0, Tagle 0, Celzo 0.

Quarterscores: 19-11, 43-22, 56-42, 78-56.