CENTRO Escolar University coach Derrick Pumaren admitted that the pressure got the better of his squad when it faced Cignal-Ateneo in Game One of the 2019 PBA D-League Finals on Thursday.
We did not compete and we did not show the fight and heart. We got intimidated facing Ateneo for the first time," he said in the heels of a ruthless 101-66 Blue Eagles pounding of the Scorpions.
It was an all-out mauling on the part of Cignal-Ateneo, dominating CEU in almost every department.
The Blue Eagles shot 48-percent from the field and 42-percent from beyond the arc, compared to the Scorpions' 34-percent field goal shooting and a measly 13-percent clip from downtown.
Cignal-Ateneo also got the better of CEU in the assists department, 24-15, while also turning the Scorpions' 24 turnovers to 23 easy points for the Blue Eagles.
It also wasn't much of a surprise that Cignal-Ateneo got 60 bench points as seven players scored at least eight points in Game One.
As tough as the defeat was for Pumaren, he can take pride seeing how CEU was able to rattle its fancied foe early on.
The Scorpions took hold of a 12-9 lead before the Blue Eagles went on a 16-4 tear to finish the opening period, which served as a precursor of the 35-point beatdown that will follow, which would become the most lopsided PBA D-League Finals game in history.
And for the veteran mentor, that should be how CEU must play if it wants to equalize the best-of-five championship series on Tuesday.
"We just have to believe that we can compete with them. We have to show that heart and fight on Game Two," he said.
Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf was able to get his 21 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, and three assists in the game, but the Scorpions would have to get a superb effort from guys like Rich Guinitaran, Dave Bernabe and Jerome Santos to pull off the upset.
Game Two is at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.