CENTRO Escolar University completed its perfect run to the 5th PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) title with a 92-82 win over Olivarez College on Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
In clinching their second title since winning the inaugural edition of the event in 2016, the Scorpions had to weather Olivarez’s spirited fourth-quarter comeback to become the first team in league history to win the championship via 14-0 sweep.
CEU topped the double-round elims of the 7-tournament before sweeping the Sea Lions, 2-0, in their best-of-three title series.
Inspired after earning a spot in the Mythical Selection, Lenard Santiago produced 22 points, six assists and five steals. He was ably supported by Jerome Santos who finished with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists.
CEU’s dynamic duo triggered the team’s strong start and immediately seized control of the contest before helping the Scorpions steady the ship against repeated runs from the Sea Lions in the ensuing quarters.
Olivarez threatened at 81-77 with 4:29 left behind the efforts of Edmund Dela Cruz, Mark Gallano and John Umali.
But it proved to be their last hurrah as CEU came through with two solid defensive stops, first a block from Henry Agunnane which translated into a layup from Ron Rei Tolentino before forcing another Olivarez turnover in the next possession which practically sealed the deal.
Dela Cruz and Gallano paced Olivarez with 19 and 14 points respectively, living up to their earlier Mythical Team awards where they were also joined by Santiago, Jan Derrick Villarez of University of Batangas and Season MVP Robbie Darang of Diliman College.
Claud Christian Njike Tabeth, meanwhile, was named as Best Foreign Player of the tournament.