The defending NAASCU champions, the Centro Escolar University (CEU) Scorpions, coasted through the CESAFI champions, the Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras, 85-76 in a rematch of last year’s third place game in the Premier Cup Saturday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Alfred Batino paced the Scorpions in the first quarter in scoring eight straight CEU points to give his team a 12-4 advantage. Batino was unstoppable in the paint in converting on hook shots and gaining contact for fouls in the early goings of the game. Fellow frontcourt mate Rodrigue Ebondo then took charge in scoring six straight points to maintain CEU’s lead at 20-12. The Cobras however kept their team alive behind Mac Tallo’s and Jasper Parker’s scoring and ball distribution. The two, who came off the bench, combined for ten points in the quarter and dished out three assists. The quarter ended with CEU on top 26-19.
In the second stanza of the game, it was another Scorpion who made a scoring spree as Bernard Pagkatipunan led an 11-3 run that gave CEU a 37-22 lead. Just as CEU was about to break away, the visiting team’s starting shooting guard John Auditor became aggressive on offense in crafting his way to open shots and creating for his teammates. Auditor scored all eight of his points in the quarter. A putback by Bernie Bregondo with no time remaining cut the CEU lead to just five 48-43 before halftime.
Unfortunately for the visiting Cebuano team, the Scorpions turned it up on defense in the second half as their man-to-man defense was too much for the Cobras. The Scorpions switched on every pick to challenge every attempt of their opponents. Moreover, the ball movement of the Mendiola-based squad was crisp leading to wide open shots.
With the game almost out of reach at 78-66, things got heated between fellow Cebuanos former UC Webmaster Alfred Batino and Daryl Goloran at the 6:41 mark of the fourth. The two had a light scuffle after an accidental kick by Goloran to Batino’s teammate JM Vargas that resulted to a double technical. After the game, cooler heads prevailed as the two exchanged pleasantries afterwards.
The troika of Samboy de Leon, Ebondo, and Batino continued to score at will while Joseph Celso and Kenneth de Leon helped close out the game as the Scorpions won 85-76. With the win, the CEU Scorpions locked the top seed for Group B.
After the game, Coach Edgar Macaraya told the members of the press present that the quarterfinals is a different animal. “Do or die na yan. One loss and your eliminated. We can’t let our guards down at any point,” Macaraya quipped. “Hopefully, sana maka-champion kami dito.”
The Scorpions shot 48% from the field in the game and was an outstanding 17 of 21 from the free throw line. However, the main difference that changed the pace of the game was CEU outrebounding SWU 36-29.
Congolese Rodrigue Ebondo led all players with 18 points while also grabbing nine rebounds. Samboy de Leon and Alfred Batino also scored in double digits for CEU in scoring 13 and 12 respectively. For SWU, the 17-year old Boko Mupungo had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jasper Parker scored 15 points while team captain Mac Tallo had 13.
The CEU Scorpions next face the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, June 10 at 4:00pm in quarterfinals action.
CEU 85 – Ebondo 18, De Leon S. 13, Batino 12, Celso 8, Pagkatipunan 7, De Leon K. 7, Casino 6, Abundo 6, Jeruta 2, Vargas 2, Opiso 2, Anunciacion 2
SWU 76 – Mupungo 17, Parker 15, Tallo 13, Goloran 12, Auditor 8, Bregondo 5, Holper 2, Luz 2, Acuno 2
|CEU (B, 7-1)||26||48||68||85|
|SWU (B, 2-6)||19||43||59||76|