by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
4 p.m. – CEU vs St. Clare
Centro Escolar University and St. Clare-Virtual Reality clash for a chance to face Cignal-Ateneo in the finals of their PBA D-League semifinal series when they clash in the deciding game 3 of their semis series today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Scorpions and Saints square off at 4 p.m. with both teams looking to display the performance that allowed them to split the first two games of the series.
CEU claimed the series opener last June 3 with a narrow 76-75 victory at the Paco Arena in Manila but St. Clare avoided a sweep with an 84-50 rout two days later at Ynares.
Coach Derrick Pumaren hopes to steer CEU to its first finals appearance since a runner-up finish in the 2017 Foundation Cup despite fielding an eight-man lineup in the aftermath of game-fixing allegations involving several players.
Senegalese center Maodo Malick Diouf and Rich Guinitaran lead CEU’s bid with Kurt Sunga and Franz Diaz expected to step up in the decider.
Out to take advantage of CEU’s depleted roster is St. Clare, which is banking on Mohammad Pare, Junjie Hallare, Irven Palencia and Joshua Fontanilla.
Saints coach Jinino Manansala is aiming to lead St. Clare to its first-ever finals appearance in the league.
The winner will likely face a daunting task in the best-of-five showdown with Cignal-Ateneo, which made it to the title series after sweeping City of Valencia-San Sebastian in the semis.