NO doubt, Centro Escolar University has already earned Cignal-Ateneo's respect.
That's what you get when you go to battle playing only seven players and still pull off a 77-74 Game Two shocker against unquestionably the top basketball program in the country.
"We know CEU is a great team. Why else would they be here in the championship game?" said Ateneo sniper Adrian Wong after Game Two of the 2019 PBA D-League Finals on Tuesday.
The Scorpions may be undermanned, but they were never outmatched, with the Derrick Pumaren-coached crew making life hard for the Blue Eagles.
Game Two saw CEU win the battle of the boards, 46 to 36, and hold the high-octane Cignal-Ateneo offense to a paltry 31-percent shooting from downtown.
The Blue Eagles were also hurt by the absence of Isaac Go, who Wong noted is "one of our main men who consistently spreads the floor."
"His outside shooting we really missed that today but that shouldn't be excuse. We should be able to adjust to that," he added.
Wong tried to do his part with 17 points on a 4-of-7 shooting from threes, to go with three assists, three steals, and two rebounds.
But what he was unable to do was knock down a trey in the waning moments as Cignal-Ateneo failed to extend the game to overtime.
That, though, is a thing of the past now as the Blue Eagles aim to rectify their errors in Game Three on Thursday, still at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
"We didn't come as prepared and we weren't as set with what we're supposed to do. We didn't do our jobs," said Wong. "It's more of a mindset that we have to make sure that we come prepared for Game Three." with reports from Andrew Mencias