CENTRO Escolar University booked the final seat in the PBA D-League Foundation title series, pulling the rug from under highly-touted Flying V, 72-67, in Game Three of the semifinals on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
By pulling off the improbable against the once invincible Thunder, the Scorpions became just the second team in D-League history to enter the finals as the fourth seed after Tanduay did it last year.
The Scorpions now face Cignal in a three-game finals showdown. The Hawkeyes swept Marinerong Pilipino in the other semis pairing.
"I'm so proud sa mga players ko talagang binigay nila yung best kaya sila umabot sa ganito," said head coach Yong Garcia
"Enjoy lang namin yung pagkapanalo ngayon. Tomorrow we get back to work," he added.
A three pointer by JK Casino with 2:09 left in the game gave the Scorpions the lead for good before Joseph Manlangit extended the lead to five following two free throws with 1:33 left.
Eric Salamat nailed a triple seven seconds later to keep Flying V alive but Rod Ebondo drained three of his next four foul shots to put the Thunder away for good.
Orlan Wamar paced the Scorpions with 17 points, 15 in the first half as CEU trimmed a 13-point deficit to seven.
Art Aquino added 13 and 10 rebounds, Manlangit had 11 points and nine boards while Ebondo grabbed 18 rebounds to highlight the Scorpions' dominance on the boards 53-41.
Jeron Teng led the Thunder with 19 points and six assists.
The defeat was a major letdown for the Thunder who had won 11 straight games, including a sweep of the 10-game elimination round, before going down in Game Two.
CEU 72 - Wamar 19, Aquino 13, Casiño 12, Ebondo 11, Manlangit 11, Jeruta 4, Arim 2, Uri 2, Cruz 2, Fuentes 0.
Flying V 67 - Teng 19, Thiele 13, Torres 8, Banal 7, Paredes 6, Salamat 6, Austria 3, Tampus 3, Cañada 2, Dionisio 0.
Quarterscores: 12-18; 32-39; 51-54; 72-67.