The Centro Escolar University Scorpions clinched the first playoff spot in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, as they turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, 90-85, Tuesday afternoon at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
Rich Guinitaran uncorked 27 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting clip to lead the Scorpions in the victory.
Congolese student-athlete Rod Ebondo chipped in 22 markers and 12 rebounds, while Joseph Manlangit got 16 points — nine of which came in the fourth quarter — on top of seven boards, in the team’s fourth consecutive win.
The win didn’t come easy for CEU, however, as they squandered a 16-point lead, 80-64, with 7:47 left in the game, and allowed Perpetual to fight back and even take an 85-83 lead with 1:52 remaining.
But the Scorpions’ defense came alive in the end game, as Orlan Wamar and Ebondo secured huge boards for their side, before Keanu Caballero stopped Edgar Charcos in the final minute to salvage the victory.
“Credit to my players dahil talagang kahit ang dami naming lapses, nag-focus sila,” said coach Yong Garcia.
League-leaders CEU improve to 7-1 and are the first team to book their ticket to the playoffs, where only the top six squads will advance after the eliminations.
Prince Eze fired 23 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks, while Charcos dropped 13 of his 22 markers in the payoff period, along with nine assists and five boards. The two of them carried the load for the Altas.
Perpetual suffered their third straight defeat to drop to a 2-5 card.
CEU 90 — Guinitaran 27, Ebondo 22, Manlangit 16, Fuentes 6, Aquino 5, Wamar 5, Cruz 4, Arim 3, Caballero 2, Opiso 0, Uri 0, Veron 0.
UPHSD 85 — Eze 23, Charcos 22, Aurin 14, Villanueva 9, Pido 5, Coronel 4, Mangalino 4, Peralta 4, Pascia 0, Tamayo 0.
Quarterscores: 23-19, 49-39, 72-60, 90-85.