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PBA: Che’Lu foils CEU, nears D-L finals

Levi Hernandez of Che’Lu Bar and Grill  (PBA Images)

Levi Hernandez of Che’Lu Bar and Grill (PBA Images)

by Jonas Terrado

Games Tomorrow (Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
4 p.m. – Marinero vs Go for Gold
6 p.m. – CEU vs Che’ Lu

Che’Lu Bar and Grill foiled Centro Escolar University’s comeback bid to secure a 112-97 victory in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Chris Bitoon hit a three from the top of the key before Jeff Viernes knocked down a corner trey after splitting his two free throws, giving the top seeded Revellers some breathing room after the fourth-ranked Scorpions got to within 94-90 on a triple by Judel Fuentes with 3:12 remaining in the fourth.

Viernes made 14 of his 21 points in the fourth while ex-pro Levi Hernandez topscored with 24 points as Che’Lu moved a win shy of advancing to the finals for the second straight conference.

The Revellers, still smarting from losing to Zark’s Burgers-Lyceum in the Aspirants’ Cup Finals, can close it out with a win on Thursday at the same venue.

“Complacency has always been our problem, good thing we’re a more-experienced team,” said Che’Lu coach Stevenson Tiu.

Fuentes delivered a game-high 27 points but CEU fell short in erasing a 79-59 deficit in the third to fall in a predicament of having to win twice to advance to the finals for the second time in team history.

Jan Formento had 17 points and John Rojas made 15 points and seven rebounds for the Scorpions of veteran coach Derrick Pumaren.

Hernandez scored 10 and Bitoon made seven in the third period as Che’Lu took command after a 53-46 lead at the break.

Jesse Collado added 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, Bitoon added 16 points and Jay-R Taganas posted four points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Revellers.