TANAUAN CITY – Centro Escolar University leaned on a barrage of triples to frustrate anew rival Saint Clare College of Caloocan, 68-56, and advance to the finale of the 2014 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) Luzon-Metro Manila playoffs at the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities Gym Sunday (November 9). The Scorpions, the back-to-back National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) champions, will now face defending champion De La Salle University, the 67-62 victor over Jose Rizal University in the second game.
Rodrigue Ebondo and reigning NAASCU Most Valuable Player Samboy de Leon hit consecutive triples towards the end of the final canto to give the Scorpions a safe 65-45 edge. Frustration then set in for the Saints as top gun Jayson Ibay was thrown out for a low blow on Ebondo who was attempting another triple with 44 seconds remaining.
Compared to their classic championship meetings in the NAASCU over the last three seasons, Sunday’s game was a far cry as the best the Saints could do was to tie the game twice at 2-2 and 7-7. Otherwise, it was clear domination for the wards of Coach Edgar Macaraya who submitted a total of eight treys.
Playing their third straight game in as many days, the Saints had some moments in the second period but these were quickly stymied by the long bombs by Joseph Sedurifa, Alvin Abundo and JK Casino. Adding to their problems, the Saints lost guard Jonathan Ibarra to injury after he converted the first half’s final basket but they still trailed, 27-34.
De Leon finished with three triples to top Centro Escolar with 12. Ebondo, Sedurifa and team captain Alfred Batino all ended with 10 points with Ebondo grabbing 13 rebounds.
Despite his late banishment, Ibay still paced the Saints with 14 points. Jan Acebron was next with 10 points.
NAASCU Chairman Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem, who watched at courtside, was quick to commend both teams. “The fact that they reached this stage of the tournament and be counted among the top 10 to 15 among over 200 basketball programs nationwide is a big achievement and another testament of the quality of our league and its players,” said Dr. Adalem.
The Scorpions and Green Archers will dispute today the final spot in the Elite Eight that will commence on November 13 in Cebu City. High on their to-do list is stopping DLSU’s prized recruit Benoit Mbala, who was inserted in the roster for this tournament, and ace gunner Jeron Teng.
How They Scored:
CENTRO ESCOLAR (68) – de Leon 12, Ebondo 10, Batino 10, Sedurifa 10, Celso 8, Abundo 8, Casino 7, Jeruta 2, Opiso 1, Mutombo 0, Banua 0.
SAINT CLARE (56) – Ibay 14, Acebron 10, Gil 8, Dulalia 8, Ibarra 5, Managuelod 5, Jamito 4, Ambulodto 2, Mendoza 0, Redoh 0, Lunor 0.
Period Scores: 16-11, 34-27, 48-41, 68-56.