Centro Escolar University (CEU) marched into the 2022 Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup playoffs with another 84-77 upset win, this time over Marinerong Pilipino Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Jerome Santos caught fire in the second half, dropping 18 of his 25 points as the Scorpions clinched their second straight win and, more importantly, booked a spot in the playoffs.
He also collected nine rebounds and two steals.
“All of these are beyond my expectations. I can’t believe that a young team like us can make the playoffs. It was really a team effort. We all worked hard for this,” coach Chico Manabat said after CEU wrapped up the eliminations with a 4-3 win-loss card.
In the second game, Apex Fuel-San Sebastian defeated Wangs-Letran, 70-64, to secure the top seed and claim an outright semifinal berth.
Romel Calahat fired 18 points and six rebounds for the Stags, who rolled to their fifth straight win to claim a 6-1 record heading into the next round.
It was an all-out effort indeed for CEU with Lenard Santiago contributing 13 points, five boards, and two steals, Ronrei Tolentino flirting with a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds, and Nigerian center Victor Balogun chiming in eight points, eight boards, and two rejections.
The Scorpions showed poise after squandering a 66-50 lead entering the payoff period as the Skippers rallied and cut the lead down to one, 72-71, with 4:49 remaining.
Santiago and Balogun conspired in the telling 10-0 response to retake an 82-71 lead in the final three minutes before CEU’s defense did the trick to escape with the victory.
Adrian Nocum fired 18 points, seven rebounds, and two assists for Marinerong Pilipino (4-3) which played without an
under-the-weather Juan Gomez de Liano.
Warren Bonifacio and Arvin Gamboa both scored 13 points apiece, while Jollo Go shot 3-of-12 from deep to only have 12 to his name.
CEU (84) — Santos 25, Santiago 13, Diaz 8, Balogun 8, Tolentino 8, Ancheta 6, Ferrer 5, Borromeo 5, Bernabe 4, Malicana 2, Reyes 0, Enrile 0, Cabotaje 0.
Marinero (77) — Nocum 18, Bonifacio 13, Gamboa 13, Go 12, Carino 9, Garcia 5, Pido 3, Agustin 2, Bonsubre 2, Hernandez 0.
Quarters: 27-26, 45-38,
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