The Centro Escolar University Scorpions were crowned as the champions of the 2018 Smart Universities and Colleges Basketball League Summer Tournament after surviving a thriller against the Diliman College Blue Dragons, 79-77, Wednesday afternoon at the Philippine Buddhacare Academy.
Defense in the final 23 seconds saved the day for the Scorpions, who had to battle back from as much as 10 points down to steal the victory.
Tyron Chan hit two pressure-laden free throws with 23 seconds left to give CEU a cushion, 79-75. This was quickly answered by free throws from Kristoffer Torrado, who missed a twisting layup at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.
Gilles Oloume, Kobe Caballero and Rich Guinitaran joined forces in the fourth period to fuel CEU’s comeback. Guinitaran hit a big triple to shatter the game’s last deadlock at the 2:13 mark, 74-71, and the Scorpions held on despite the Blue Dragons’ repeated attempts to grab back the upper hand.
Before fouling out midway in the fourth, Oloume made 20 points and six rebounds while handling the tough task of containing Adama Diakhite. He was followed by Orlan Wamar with 14 points.
Mocking all defenses thrown at him, Diakhite registered his usual monster numbers of 24 points and 21 rebounds. Torrado followed with 19 points, seven assists, and four steals.
Earlier in the day, the National University Bulldogs salvaged bronze by clipping the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 89-82.
The Bulldogs seized control for good in the second period led by Mike Malonzo, and saved enough energy to hold off a late UST rally anchored on Brent Paraiso.
Malonzo topped the Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds followed by Tzaddy Rangel with 13 points and six rebounds.
Paraiso netted 14 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth and was supported by Renze Abando with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The third season of the UCBL is scheduled to open on September 6.
Aside from CEU and Diliman, other members of the league are Olivarez College, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Technological Institute of the Philippines and newest member Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas.
CEU (79) – Oloume 20, Wamar 14, Chan 10, Guinitaran 10, Uri 7, Ko Caballero 7, Rojas 6, Ke Caballero 3, Umeanozie 2, Formento 0.
Diliman (77) – Diakhite 24, Torrado 19, Bauzon 11, Arceta 7, Sombero 6, Sablan 4Olea 3, Enriquez 2, Brutas 1, Darang 0, Vargas 0, Tay 0, Cecilio 0.
Quarterscores: 21-14, 36-40, 56-58, 79-77.
Battle for Third:
NU (89) – Malonzo 16, Rangel 13, Morido 10, Minerva 9, Salim 7, Penano 6, Diputado 6, Flores 6, Puray 6, Cauilan 5, Atienza 3, Yu 2, Lastimosa 0.
UST (82) – Paraiso 34, Abando 18, Concepcion 8, Evangelista 7, Pangilinan 6, Batuzolele 5, Ayo 2, Monje 2, Yongco 0, Lagumen 0.
Quarterscores: 20-19, 44-37, 71-60, 89-82.