MANILA, Philippines – Centro Escolar University (CEU) dug deep to pull off an 89-72 victory over St. Clare College Virtual Reality in Game 3 of their 2019 PBA D-League semifinal series, Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The duo of Rich Guinitaran and Dave Bernabe stepped up big for the Scorpions, which had to deal with the absence of Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf in the final three minutes of the game.
Guinitaran contributed 23 points and 7 rebounds, and hit the booming triple that gave his team an 83-68 lead with 2:49 to play in the game.
“We didn’t expect to be here, to make it to the finals, but the heart and the desire to win ng mga players, there’s no substitute for that,” said coach Derrick Pumaren.
Bernabe scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, while also grabbing 14 rebounds and tallying five steals in the win.
Diouf had to sit the waning moments of the game after being whistled for a flagrant foul penalty one for his landing spot foul against Raymond Rubio at the 3:11 mark of the fourth.
But CEU already had a comfortable lead at that point, thanks to a 20-4 run in the third quarter that turned a tight 38-39 halftime affair to a commanding 58-43 lead.
That allowed them to take the best-of-3 series, two games to one.
CEU now has just one day to prepare for its best-of-5 finals series against a well-rested Cignal-Ateneo team. Game 1 is on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
“For me, this team is already a champion. With all the adversities na nangyari, we still made it,” said Pumaren.
Junjie Hallare carried St. Clare with 19 points, while Joshua Fontanilla got 16 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals in the semis exit.
CEU 89 — Guinitaran 23, Bernabe 22, Diouf 14, Sunga 12, Santos 8, Diaz 7, Abastillas 3.
ST. CLARE 72 — Hallare 19, Fontanilla 16, Pare 11, Lunor 7, Tiquia 7, Santos 6, Ambulodto 4, Rubio 2, Penaredondo 0.
Quarters: 16-21, 38-39, 67-52, 89-72.
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