Centro Escolar University (CEU) shocked top seed Flying V, 72-67, and bagged the last finals slot in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions bucked a slow start and needed a strong finish to pull the rug under the Thunder, whose unbeaten run in the elimination round went for naught as they got eliminated in the tournament.
“I am really proud of my players. They did their best that’s why we have reached and come this far,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia, who will face the veteran Boyet Fernandez and the Cignal HD squad in the best-of-three finals.
“From the very start, I told my players to stay focused and stick whatever is on our game plan,” added Garcia.
The Scorpions trailed the majority of the game and were staring a 51-54 deficit entering the fourth quarter when they tied the game at 64-all with 3:14 remaining in the game.
John Karlo Casino and Jayson Manlangit joined forced for CEU and scored five straight points, 69-64, but Flying V’s Eric Salamat answered with a triple 67-69, 1:29 remaining.
Thunder forward Hans Thiele missed the chance to tie the game but missed a jumper and Rod Ebondo sealed the game with two free throws for the Scorpions.
Orlan Wamar led CEU with 17 points, while Art Aquino netted 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Manlangit had six of his 11 markers in the final period on top of nine rebounds while Ebondo finished with 11 points and 18 rebounds for the Mendiola-based squad.
Jeron Teng fired off 19 points, five rebounds and six assists but his efforts fell short as the Thunder’s promising maiden campaign came to a tragic ending.
Thiele contributed 13 markers and four boards while Thomas Torres had eight points for the Flying V.