Centro Escolar University (CEU) entered the semifinals after drubbing Team Batangas, 81-74, in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions survived the late rally of Batangas, which narrowed the 14-point lead, 67-53, in the fourth quarter and threatened at 74-77 with 1:33 left in the game.
Batangas’ new recruit Robby Celiz had the chance to tie the game but missed his tree point attempt with 44 seconds remaining. The two free throws of John Carlo Casino sealed the win for CEU.
Casino led the Scorpions with 18 points and five rebounds while Congolese big man Rod Ebondo had another double-double performance of 15 markers and 19 boards as the Scorpions face the top seed and unbeaten Flying V in the best-of-three semifinals series.
“This is a collective effort of the players. Because of their hard work, we reached this stage. Though we had let some complacency be on the road, we were able to recover,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia.
Mark Neil Cruz notched 15 points and nine rebounds while Aaron Jeruta contributed 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists for CEU.
Meanwhile, Celis led the Batangueños with 18 markers and eight rebounds in a losing effort.
Cedric De Joya chipped in 16 points and three dimes while Cedrick Abalaza had a double-double of 15 markers and 10 rebounds for Batangas.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID