OLIVAREZ College and Centro Escolar University dispute the last final berth when they clash on Thursday in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 3 at the Olivarez College in Parañaque City.
Another intense showdown is expected in their 12 noon shootout, where the winner will earn the right to face Diliman College in a best-of-three title showdown starting on Monday next week.
The Olivarez Sea Lions, inspired by the cheers of the home crowd, forced the deciding match with the twice-to-beat Scorpions after pulling off a pulsating 68-67 win – thanks to the heroics of Cameroonian Yani Elie – last Monday.
The 6-foot-7 Elie had the last laugh in his duel down low with the 6-foot-11 Senegalese Maodo Malick Diouf as he towered to hit the game winner with only a heartbeat left.
Elie outscored Diouf, 16-14, but the gangling CEU center had more rebounds, 25-10.
The rivalry of the two giants is expected to heat up on Thursday, and so is the battle among their local aces.
The absence of Orlan Wamar the last time weighed heavily on the Scorpions but coach Derrick Pumaren is hoping that others – like John Rojas, Rich Guinitaran and PT Chan – will step out and deliver in the rubber match.
The loss was the second straight for CEU as it also absorbed a stinging 87-86 loss to Diliman at the close of the double-round elims last week, ending a 10-game winning streak.
There was no need for Diliman to use its twice-to-beat privilege as it outlasted Technological Institute of the Philippines, 77-68, to book the first finals berth.