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PBA D-League: Ron Rei Tolentino saves day as CEU outlasts PSP in 2OT

Centro Escolar University outlasted the PSP Gymers in double overtime, 109-107, to get back on track of a tightrope Top Two race in the 2023 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.,

Ron Rei Tolentino saved the day with the go-ahead trey in the last 18 seconds as the Scorpions recovered from a meltdown in the first overtime to bounce back from a 93-72 loss versus the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta the other day.

The Scorpions improved to 3-2 with a game to go against leader Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda for a flickering hope to finish in the Top Two that comes with an outright semifinal berth.

“Wala na ‘yung Xs and Os dito eh. It’s all about heart. And hats off to our players for not giving up. Hindi sila sumuko against a veteran team like PSP,” said coach Jeff Perlas, who needed to adjust his game plan prior to the game due to the activation of Wendell Comboy and Fran Yu for PSP.

“Like our game against Letran in OT, I challenged them and they responded. It’s a big win for us at iyon nga, still hoping na makaangat pa lalo sa rankings,” he added.

Team captain Franz Ray Diaz quarterbacked CEU’s attack with 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists as Tolentino finished with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double plus five assists and three steals.

Tolentino’s heroics included the game-tying and-one late in the regulation to force the first OT before his backbreaking triple in the waning seconds of second OT to give the Scorpions a 108-107 lead.

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Jerome Santos, Ayodeji Victor Balogun and Mark Anthony Anagbogu threw in 16, 15 and 12 points, respectively, for the Scorpions, who figured in a nip-and-tuck battle highlighted by 21 lead changes and 16 deadlocks.

CEU’s biggest lead was at 98-90 off Tolentino’s trey in the last 56 seconds only for PSP to unleash a 9-1 closeout capped by Val Acuna’s triple that rattled into the rim in the last 16 seconds.

In the second OT, CEU took its turn in completing a turnaround as Tolentino, after his big trey, split his charities for the final count.

Mark Meneses collared 22 points, 21 rebounds, three steals and six blocks while Comboy had 19 in a foiled rally for the Gymers, who slid to 2-4 but still assured of a quarterfinal berth at No. 6 with twice-to-win handicap against the third seed.

The Scores:

CEU 109 – Diaz 21, Tolentino 20, Santos 16, Balogun 15, Anagbogu 12, Bernabe 9, Cabotaje 7, Borromeo 3, Peñano 2, Puray 2, Malicana 2, Javier 0, Joson 0, Ferrer 0.

PSP 107 – Meneses 22, Comboy 19, Acuña 15, Dela Cruz 14, Bayla 13, Mohammad 9, Yutuc 7, Yu 4, Sumagaysay 2, Velchez 2, Castillo 0, Olegario 0.

Quarterscores: 18-22, 40-38, 62-56, 82-82, 99-99, 109-107 (2OT).

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