CENTRO Escolar University coach Egay Macaraya believes the experience gained by his players in the PBA D-League is a huge factor in the school’s run to the Sweet 16 of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL).
The Scorpions, whose core sees action for Café France in the developmental league, vie for the spot for Luzon-Metro Manila in the PCCL Final Four. CEU reached the Sweet 16 by sweeping all its three games in the Metro Manila qualifiers, downing UAAP side University of the Philippines, NCAA team Emilio Aguinaldo College, and St. Francis of Assisi College.
CEU has won its league, the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (Naascu), but coach Macaraya said it has been the school’s dream to go deep in the PCCL and play against the best in Metro Manila.
“Eto ’yung first time na ang CEU, pumasok sa Sweet 16. This is our dream, matagal na,” Macaraya said.
Macaraya said playing in the PBA D-League was one of the reasons they had reached this far in the PCCL tournament. The Scorpions have a school tie-up with Café France where several players like foreign cager Rod Ebondo, Alvin Abundo, Samboy De Leon, Joseph Sedurifa, and Jason Opiso are also playing for the Bakers.
“Malaking bagay ’yung D-League namin dahil nag-mature talaga ‘yung mga players namin,” said Macaraya.
Macaraya noted Ebondo, an 18-year-old Congo native playing for CEU in his first year, can be considered at par with the foreign players in bigger leagues.
“Sa totoo lang, 18 years old lang siya. Medyo nangangapa pa siya sa basketball sa Pilipinas but he is a good potential,” Macaraya said of the 6-foot-6 Ebondo.
The Scorpions will play UAAP team University of the East on Monday in Tanauan City in the first round of the step-ladder playoff of the Luzon-Metro Manila qualifiers where UAAP and NCAA Final Four entries are also waiting. Macaraya admits the team will have their hands full against the Red Warriors.
“Medyo mahihirapan kami dahil mas malalim ’yung bench nila at saka alam naman natin na malakas ’yung team nila, andoon din si (Charles) Mammie. Hopefully, maganda ang laro ng mga bata para at least may chance lang,” said Macaraya.