UNHERALDED Centro Escolar University caused a stir in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup after completing a sweep of its elimination-round games.
Now, the Scorpions will have another chance of pulling a bigger surprise when they play reigning NCAA men’s champions San Beda Red Lions in the semifinals on Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
CEU coach Egay Macaraya stood defiant ahead of the 4 p.m. clash against the multi-titled Red Lions, saying he believes his team can match up with any team in the preseason tournament.
“Nasubukan na namin,” Macaraya said.
The Scorpions, reigning National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (NAASCU) champions, won all their Group C preliminary games to become the top-seeded team in the quarterfinals, where they beat eighth-ranked Lyceum on Monday.
Macaraya said the experience gained by CEU by suiting up in the PBA D-League carrying the Café France franchise has made the Scorpions a competitive team.
“I guess our experience in the D-League, malaking bagay. Nakatulong talaga sa amin. Nagkaroon ng maturity and experience ‘yung laro nila,” said Macaraya.
The true test, however, will come against the Red Lions, who defeated National University in the round-of-eight on Monday.
“Hindi ganoon kalaki ang chance naming manalo pero we will always give them a good fight,” Macaraya said.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez however, disagreed, saying he is wary of CEU ahead of the so-called ‘Battle of Mendiola.'
“I’m not surprised with (the performance of) CEU,” said Fernandez, who handled recently-crowned NLEX team in the D-League. “They have been playing in the D-League and they are a strong team. They made it to the quarterfinals in the D-League.
“I think the experience they got in the D-League helped them a lot in the Filoil,” said Fernandez.
Macaraya expects San Beda will be ready against his team as he felt the Scorpions have gained the respect of other schools outside their mother league.
“Nakakalaban na namin ‘yung mga competitive teams sa ibang liga. They know that we have the capacity na manalo. They are prepared just like us na parating nag-scouting and doing homework,” said Macaraya.