Rich Guinitaran could not allow the Centro Escolar University Scorpions to bow out that easy, leading his side to an 83-78 win over the Che’Lu Revellers to extend their 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals series to a winner-take-all Game 3 Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The sweet-shooting forward’s go-ahead trey with 42.2 seconds left gave the Scorpions the 79-76, before Orlan Wamar followed it up with the killer pullup jumper to make it 81-76 in the final 16.7 seconds. Guinitaran also delivered the final nail in the coffin, canning a pair of freebies in the last 12.2 ticks to seal the game shut.
Guinitaran scored 20 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, alongside six rebounds to lead CEU, as Wamar went for 14 of his 20 in the final canto, as well as five boards and four steals in the win.
“That was our battlecry today. We’re not thinking of Tuesday, but we’re trying to stay alive,” said acting coach Derrick Pumaren. “Isang daliri na lang, malalaglag na tayo. Bibitaw ba tayo? Either you die or you live and today, we refused to lose.”
The triumph, however, almost didn’t come to be after the Scorpions suffered an 11-point meltdown, 67-56 with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter and saw Jeff Viernes tow the Revellers back in the game with a 12-0 blast that gave them a 68-67 lead with 3:29 to play.
But Pumaren knew what to say, shaking off CEU out of its slumber to force Game 3 next Tuesday.
“We became tentative. We played not to lose,” said Pumaren. “We manned up. The playoff is a man’s game and thats what we did. We stood our ground, took what they gave and fought.”
Viernes poured 25 points, 19 in the payoff period, alongside four assists in the losing cause.
Chris Bitoon chimed in 14 points, but he hit the showers early after being called for a flagrant foul penalty two for an apparent low blow on Wamar with 7:01 left to play.
CEU 83 – Guinitaran 20, Wamar 20, Chan 10, Ke. Caballero 6, Formento 6, Fuentes 6, Uri 5, Rojas 4, Ko. Caballero 2, Intic 2, Oloume 2.
Che’Lu 78 – Viernes 25, Bitoon 14, Hernandez 12, Collado 9, Melano 7, Sta. Ana 5, Ruaya 4, Siruma 2, De Joya 0, Mallari 0, Taganas 0.
Quarterscores: 18-19, 35-29, 55-47, 83-78.