CEU Scorpions squeak past Batangas to arrange semifinal showdown with top seed Flying V

LADY Luck smiled on Centro Escolar University as the Scorpions survived Batangas, 81-74, to book a semifinals seat in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

The Scorpions nearly blew a 14-point lead early in the fourth period as Batangas rallied behind Robby Celiz late to close in, 74-77, with 1:33 to go.

Fortunately for the Scorpions, Celiz rushed a three-point attempt and Cedric de Joya lost the ball on the break in the following possessions that led to a pair of free throws by JK Casino that made it 79-74, with 14.3 seconds left.

In the ensuing play, Batangas committed an error during an inbound play before Orlan Wamar sealed the match with two free throws.

The Scorpions will face league leader Flying V, which has yet to drop a game, in the semifinals of the season-ending conference.

"Sobrang proud ako sa kanila kasi nag-focus talaga sila sa game na ito," said CEU coach Yong Garcia.

"Walang nag-expect na aabot kami ng semifinals. Pero it's all a collective effort of the management and the players and coaches."

Casino led CEU with 18 points, while Rod Ebondo had 15 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks.

Mark Cruz scored 15 and Aaron Jeruta added 13.

Celiz finished with 18 points, while De Joya wound up with 16 points for Batangas.

 

The scores:

CEU 81 - Casiño 18, Cruz 15, Ebondo 15, Jeruta 13, Aquino 8, Arim 5, Wamar 5, Manlangit 2, Guinitaran 0, Intic 0, Uri 0.

Batangas 74 - Celiz 18, De Joya 16, Ablaza 15, Bautista 7, Gabayni 7, Dela Peña 3, Isit 3, Saitanan 3, Laude 2, Anderson 0, bulawan 0, Mendoza 0, Ragasa 0, Sorela 0.

Quarterscores: 28-18; 43-34; 61-50; 81-74.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros