The Centro Escolar University Scorpions barged into the Foundation Cup quarterfinals, hammering the Racal Motors Alibaba, 88-77, Tuesday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Leaning on the troika of Rod Ebondo, JK Casiño, and Orlan Wamar, the Scorpions held off Racal’s late surge as they turned a slim 70-68 lead with seven minutes remaining to a commanding 88-72 edge with 1:29 left on the clock.
The Congolese center imposed his presence anew with a monstrous double-double of 22 points and 19 rebounds. The diminutive Wamar chipped in five of his 12 markers in the fourth quarter, while Casiño unfurled 11 points and two boards in the win.
Art Aquino also provided support thanks to his 12 markers and three rebounds as CEU ended their elimination run with a 6-4 slate.
Coach Yong Garcia shared his elation with the way his players stepped up in the clutch, saying, “I’m very thankful for my players that they followed our gameplan. Sinabi ko lang na ito na yung chance nila para ma-experience yung pressure na makapasok sa playoffs.”
If the chips fall in the Scorpions’ way, they can still get as high as the fourth seed and nab a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals if Flying V beats Batangas in the second game.
Rian Ayonayon captained Racal (3-7) with 12 points and six rebounds, while Allan Mangahas had 10 markers and three assists.
It was a dismal finish for Racal, who had made the Finals last conference but lost key players due to their obligations in their collegiate leagues.
CEU 88 – Ebondo 22, Aquino 12, Wamar 12, Casiño 11, Guinitaran 9, Jeruta 8, Uri 6, Cruz 4, Arim 2, Manlangit 2, Baconcon 0, Intic 0.
Racal 77 – Ayonayon 12, Mangahas 10, Apreku 9, Cabrera 9, Cortes 9, Ortuoste 8, Pontejos 6, Tallo 5, Capacio 4, Lozada 3, Faundo 2, Gomez 0, Grimaldo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-23, 41-44, 63-58, 88-77.