by Jonas Terrado
Games Thursday (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
2 p.m. – Valencia-SSCR vs Cignal-Ateneo
4 p.m. – CEU vs St. Clare-Virtual Reality
Rich Guinitaran scored a layup with 13.7 seconds left as short-handed Centro Escolar University scored a thrilling 76-75 victory over St. Clare-Virtual Reality and pulled within a win of a surprising finals appearance in the PBA D-League yesterday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Guinitaran’s go-ahead basket off an outlet pass by Kurt Russelle Sunga saved the Scorpions from the jaws of defeat after allowing the Saints to take the lead on Irven Palencia’s layup with under a minute remaining in the fourth.
Maodo Malick Diouf set a new league record with 33 rebounds while adding 19 points and eight blocks as CEU kept its winning ways despite being reduced to a seven-man roster following game-fixing allegations against several players.
“It’s been a torture for us but they’re playing with their hearts out there,” said CEU coach Derrick Pumaren.
CEU tries to finish off St. Clare in Game 2 of the best-of-three series set Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Guinitaran had 18 points, Sunga had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists and Franz Diaz produced 13 points in the win.
Palencia scored 18 points and had eight steals as St. Clare forced CEU into multiple turnovers behind its pressure defense to take the lead.
St. Clare had a chance to put it away when Palencia received Diaz’s errant pass. But Palencia missed a medium-range jumper and teammate Mohammad Pare turned the ball over after grabbing the offensive rebound, leading to Guinitaran’s layup.
Cignal-Ateneo also moved a step closer toward a berth in the best-of-five title series after routing City of Valencia-San Sebastian, 105-67, in the second game.
The Blue Eagles outscored the Golden Harvest, 14-2, at the end of the third to turn a 52-all tie into a 66-54 lead.