May 01, 2024

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, CEU dispute last finals berth

Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda and Centro Escolar University battle one more time to dispute the last finals ticket in the 2024 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Game time is 7:30 p.m. with the survivor earning the right to challenge two-time defending champion EcoOil-La Salle in another best-of-three series for the championship.

CEU won Game 1, 75-71, but San Beda staved off elimination by dominating Game 2, 84-76, to level the series and forced sudden death.

The Red Lions will be coming in with the psychological advantage, but the Scorpions are unperturbed considering they have beaten their rival two straight.

"Laban lang," said San Beda mentor Yuri Escueta, claiming his Red Lions are not the heavy favorite in Game 3 despite their being the NCAA champions.

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"Wala kaming 7-footer at Class A na import," noted Escueta referring to Abdul-Wahab Olusesi.

"Of course, they have good locals also and they're well-coached. Hindi na nakakagulat na championship team sila."

Behind the efforts of Yukien Andrada, Joe Celzo and Jomel Puno, San Beda did a good job neutralizing Olusesi in Game 2. Olusesi managed just nine points in 34 minutes of play although he grabbed 13 rebounds and had three blocks.

"Our mantra is to just play better and smarter than the past two games we played," added Escueta, who is also counting on Bryan Sajonia, James Payosing, Nygel Gonzales and Emmanuel Tagle.

The Scorpions are just as determined.

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"We expected that San Beda would be a different team come playoff time. We must dig in more and believe that we still can do this," said CEU coach Jeff Perlas, keeping his fingers crossed that Franz Ray Diaz, Daniel Marcelo and Jerome Santos will once again rise to the occasion. (JBU)