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Centro Escolar takes Game One

02-CEU-Orlan Wamar / Olivarez College Vin Belaso in game one of the UCBL

Games Thursday
(Olivarez Sports Center, Paranaque City)
12 noon – TIP vs CDSL (3rd)
2 p.m. – Olivarez vs CEU (Game 2)

What was expected to be a tight contest turned out to be a walk in the park for Centro Escolar University as the Scorpions humbled the Olivarez College Sea Lions, 66-41, in Game 1 of their title series in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) yesterday at the Olivarez Sports Center in Parañaque City.

The top seeded Scorpions exploited to the fullest their size and heft advantage against the smallest squad in the seven-team tournament as they took the initiative early with their powerful inside plays.

Not even Olivarez’s vaunted pressure defense was enough to stop CEU from inching closer to winning the bragging rights as the league’s first champion.

Expectedly, it was the 6-foot-5 Rod Ebondo who led the team’s third quarter rampage that saw the Sea Lions take a 49-31 lead going into the final 10 minutes of play.

Ebondo finished with only 14 points but hauled down 17 of the team’s 53.

Despite their hustle and energy, the Sea Lions grabbed only 40 boards – no thanks to CEU’s air-tight defense.

The Sea Lions did well in the first two quarters, shooting quite well and defending ferociously – thanks to their home crowd – as they fell behind by only six points (28-22) at the end of the first half.

But when Ebondo and company asserted their might inside, the Sea Lions found themselves helpless.

Jason Opiso and Orlan Wamar also shone offensively, helping Ebondo push CEU beyond Olivarez’s reach with their impressive shooting.

Wamar and Opiso fired three triples apiece of the team’s 11 against Olivarez’s four of the game.

“We started flat. That’s why the game was close in the first half. But we managed to make several adjustments in the second half,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia. “During halftime break, I told my players to follow our game plan and they did. That’s the time we started pulling away,” said CEU coach Yong Garcia.

The win enabled the Scorpions to get back at the Sea Lions who stung them at the end of the double-round elims, 65-63.

“I don’t want to say anything about Olivarez coming back strong in the second game. What we are going to do now is to make more adjustments in our defense. We will be more focused in our next game,” added Garcia.

CEU 66 – Ebondo 14, Wamar 11, Opiso 11, Aquino 8, Guinataran 6, Arim 5, Manlangit 5, Casino 4, De Leon K. 1, Ehsan Veron 1, Umeanozei 0, Saber 0.

OLIVAREZ 41 – Solis 15, Navarro 5, Belaso 4, Uduba 4, Saguiguit 3, Rabe 3, Bermudez 3, Singh 2, Geronimo 2, Sunga 0, Sala 0.

Quarters: 13-9; 28-22; 49-31; 66-41.