Games Monday (Olivarez College): 12 noon – Olivarez vs TIP; 2 p.m. – SJC-B vs PCU-Dasmariñas
CENTRO Escolar University and Diliman College, priming up for their much-anticipated showdown next week, clinched the two twice-to-beat slots in the Final Four after besting separate foes in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 3 yesterday at the Olivarez College in Parañaque City.
Pierce Chan shot 25 points, including a huge triple off a Keanu Caballero assist in the final 15.9 seconds that lifted the Scorpions past Olivarez College, 89-82, and extended their winning run to 10 games.
The Blue Dragons, on a nine-game roll, also remained undefeated in the second round following an 82-61 romp of Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas.
CEU and Diliman improved to 10-1, as the two teams duke it out on Thursday for the top ranking at the end of the double-round eliminations.
After avenging their season-opening 83-86 loss to the Sea Lions, coach Derrick Pumaren wanted his Scorpions to go all-out to carry the needed momentum going into the Final Four.
"We are still going for the No. 1 spot. We are here not just to make the twice-to-beat slot. Getting the No. 1 spot is our immediate goal," said Pumaren.
With Olivarez trailing only 82-85, Caballero, with nowhere to go inside the lane, found Chan in the three-point area and he calmly converted the game's biggest basket to give CEU a six-point advantage.
"I think it was a big shot there," said Pumaren, referring to Chan's dagger three.
The Scorpions were comfortably ahead, 61-38, midway through the third period when the Sea Lions stormed back, found their rhythm late in the game and cut the deficit to 85-88, as Elie Yani capped a 12-0 run with a lay-up.
"I think we lost our poise out there. We ran away from what we were doing. We didn't play and we didn't get back on defense. We gave a lot of easy lay-ups and that's why they get back in the ballgame," said Pumaren. "Naging tentative ang defense namin."
McArthur John Enriquez had 14 points, Benin's Kevin Gandjeto came through with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Robbi Darang also scored 12 markers for the Sea Lions, who never trailed to secure the other semifinal incentive.
Olivarez, which will wrap up its elimination round campaign against Technological Institute of the Philippines on Monday, suffered its third loss in 11 contests and will settle for No. 3 seed in the semifinals against either CEU or Diliman.
CEU (89) - Chan 25, Fuentes 19, Diouf 10, Rojas 9, Uri 6, Caballero Ke. 6, Formento 6, Guinitaran 4, Wamar 4.
Olivarez (82) -- Castro 14, Saguiguit 13, Begaso 12, Almajeda 12, Geronimo 11, Lalata 8, Elie 6, De Leon 4, Sala 2, Siegue 0, Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 36-32, 70-47, 71-56
Diliman (82) -- Enriquez 14, Darang 12, Gandjeto 12, Bauzon 11, Coquia 8, Salazar E. 6, Brutas 5, Lisika 5, Mahari 5, Ligon 2, Salazar J. 2, Digno 0, Sombero 0, Tay 0.
LPU-Batangas (61) -- Lapasaran 16, Saliente 13, Mulunda 7, Tagle 7, Castro 5, Clarion 3, Sebastian 3, Alamo 2, Axalan 2, Mesina 2, Macias 1, Daligdig 0, Padilla 0, Villanueva 0.
Quarterscores: 23-13, 40-23, 63-42, 82-61