REIGNING champion Centro Escolar University needed an extra five minutes to dispatch stubborn Diliman College, 90-86, on Monday to book a return trip to the finals of the Universities and Colleges Basketball League at the Sea Lions gym in Parañaque City.
The CEU Scorpions, seeded No. 1 in the semis, needed the clutch baskets from Orlan Wamar, Judel Fuentes and Rich Guinitaran to complete a comeback from a 13-point deficit, 69-53.
“They just refused to give up and gave it their all even if when already down for the count,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia.
With the come-from-behind victory, witnessed by a sizeable crowd that included former Senator and Diliman College owner Nikki Coseteng, the Scorpions advanced to the best-of-three finals against either No.2 Colegio de San Lorenzo or No. 3 Olivarez College.
Wamar led CEU with 21 points while Fuentes and Guinitaran chipped in 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Earlier, Guard Paulo Castro and big man Vin Begaso shone on both ends in the second half as No. 3 Olivarez College shocked No. 2 Colegio de San Lorenzo, 74-69, and kept its finals bid alive.
The 5-foot-10 Castro fired all of his 18 points after the break while the 6-foot-2 Begaso did a commendable defensive job against Griffins import Soulemane Chabi Yo that enabled the Sea Lions to complete the stunner.
The knockout match for the finals spot is set on Thursday.
“This victory will only increase the pressure not only for CdSL but also for us,” said Olivarez College coach Mike Saguiguit, who is determined to lead the Sea Lions to a second straight finals appearance. “But we will make the most of this big chance given to us.”
The Sea Lions surely had all reasons to do so since they have found a way to neutralize the 6-foot-6 Chabi Yo, who hardly made his presence felt in the second half after firing away all but two of his 13-point output in the first 20 minutes.
Much of the credit should be given to Begaso, who helped slow down Chabi Yo while scoring 12 crucial points in the third canto where the Sea Lions started to set the tone behind their defensive pressure.
Olivarez 74 — Castro 18, Begaso 15, Saguiguit 13, Solis 7, Sunga 7, Navarro 6, Rabe 6, Uduba 2, Almajeda 0, Bermudes 0, Geronimo 0, Lalata 0.
CdSL 69 — Callano 21, Chabi Yo 13, Formento 8, Sablan 8, Alvarado 6, Rojas 6, Laman 3, Ancheta 2, Vargas 2, Baldevia 0, Borja 0.
Quarterscores: 14-18; 34-31; 55-50; 74-69.
CEU 90 — Wamar 21, Fuentes 16, Arim 14, Guinitaran 13, Intic 6, Umeanozie 5, Baconcon 5, Manlangit 5, Cruz 3, Galinato 2, Caballero 0.
Diliman 86 — Gerero 20, Diakhite 20, Mondala 15, Ligon 11, Brutas 8, Salazar 5, Darang 3, Corpuz 2, Bauzon 0, Tay 0, Sombero 0.
Quarterscores: 16-12; 33-30; 49-47; 77-77; 90-86 (OT).