The Centro Escolar University Scorpions earned its ticket to the Foundation Cup semifinals as it escaped Batangas in a hard-fought 81-74 win, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions almost suffered a huge meltdown as they saw their 14-point lead, 67-53, with 8:49 left dwindle down to as low as three, 77-74, after a Cedrick Ablaza putback with 1:33 remaining.
The Batangueños threatened to tie the game, but Robby Celiz botched his trey in the final minute and Cedric de Joya got the ball stolen by Orlan Wamar, leading to JK Casiño icing the game at the charity stripe with 14.3 seconds left.
“Sobrang proud ako sa kanila dahil talagang naka-focus sila sa game na ito. Even na medyo may tendency na mag-relax, at least nakabawi kami,” said a triumphant coach Yong Garcia. “Walang nag-expect na nandito kami sa semifinals ngayon, but it’s all a collective effort. Dahil sa trabaho nila kaya andito kami ngayon.”
JK Casiño led the fourth-seed CEU to the victory with 18 points and five rebounds, Congolese big man Rod Ebondo tallied 15 markers, 19 boards, and two blocks, and Mark Cruz added 15 points and nine rebounds for the win.
The Scorpions will now move on to the Final Four against unbeaten top-seed Flying V as they are set to do battle in a best-of-three series.
Celiz carried Batangas with 18 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, while De Joya unfurled 17 markers in the sorry loss.
CEU 81 – Casiño 18, Cruz 15, Ebondo 15, Jeruta 13, Aquino 8, Arim 5, Wamar 5, Manlangit 2, Guinitaran 0, Intic 0, Uri 0.
Batangas 74 – Celiz 18, De Joya 16, Ablaza 15, Bautista 7, Gabayni 7, Dela Peña 3, Isit 3, Saitanan 3, Laude 2, Anderson 0, bulawan 0, Mendoza 0, Ragasa 0, Sorela 0.
Quarterscores: 28-18, 43-34, 61-50, 81-74.
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