CENTRO Escolar University overcame the absence of key players, pulling off an 84-74 stunner over Go for Gold-CSB on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena to advance to the 2019 PBA D-League semifinals.
Playing with only seven players, the Scorpions survived a late rally from the Scratchers.
CEU saw its 17-point lead chopped down to four, 68-64, with 6:16 remaining, but Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf scored six in a 10-2 tun to bring the lead back up to 12 points, 78-66, with 2:34 remaining.
Diouf finished with 25 points, 29 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks as he played all 40 minutes.
"I'm happy for the boys, lalo na yung naglarong seven, lalo na kay Malick. He's been our game changer sa league na ito," said coach Derrick Pumaren.
The victory set CEU up for a best-of-three showdown against rival St. Clare College Virtual Reality in the Final Four.
Jerome Santos had a conference-best 15 points and six rebounds, as Rich Guinitaran scored 11 for the Scorpions. Jordan Intic was the eighth man in uniform to fulfill the PBA requirement, but was benched for the crucial tiff.
Seven CEU players are under investigation for alleged game-fixing.
The players who are currently being investigated are Judel Fuentes, Tyron Chan, Jan Formento, Christian Uri, Keanu Caballero, John Rojas, and John Lisbo.
"Yung seven players, na-involve sa game-fixing and we have strong evidences and they admitted it and they're out of the team. We cannot tolerate it," said Pumaren.
"Yung game na mahal natin, parang nababoy at parang hindi tama yun. Masyadong unfair sa mga gustong maglaro."
Roosevelt Adams was the lone shining light for the Scratchers with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Gab Banal wound up with 18 points, six boards and six assists.
CEU 84 - Diouf 25, Santos 15, Guinitaran 13, Bernabe 10, Diaz 10, Sunga 7, Abastillas 4.
GO for Gold-CSB 74 - Adams 26, Banal 20, Nayve 7, Santillan 6, Gutang 5, Naboa 3, Dixon 3, Pasturan 2, Leutcheu 2, Carlos 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20; 44-36; 66-51; 84-74.