RODRIGUE Ebondo scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, making five big points in the endgame as Centro Escolar University defeated St. Clare College, 83-78, on Thursday in Game One of the National of the Athletic Association for Schools, Colleges, and Universities basketball finals at the Makati Coliseum.
Ebondo scored 13 in the final period, hitting a triple with 54.4 seconds to play before securing the win with a tip-in with 32 seconds left to make it 79-72.
The Scorpions, undefeated in nine games, can clinch their third straight crown in Game Two set on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Rizal Technological University gym in Mandaluyong City.
Centro Escolar wasn’t able to put St. Clare away early and the Saints even tied the game at 72 on a lay-up by Alvin Detubio with 1:44 left in the contest.
But the Scorpions showed poise and moved closer to their second title of the year after the CEU-backed Café France won the PBA D-League Foundation Cup title months ago.
“Kita naman natin na nahirapan kami when they went small,” CEU coach Egay Macaraya said.
“Hopefully, maka-adjust kami sa next game because it was working for St. Clare. Nahirapan kami mag-adjust. We will just go to the court and find a way na hindi uli mangyari ‘yun.”
Mon Abundo had 16 points, while Jason Opiso added 14 points for CEU. Samboy de Leon scored 11 points but didn’t finish the game due to cramps.
Jonathan Ibarra had 18 points while Aristotle Dionisio had 11 points and seven rebounds for St. Clare.