7-man CEU sends statement it's a worthy opponent for Cignal-Ateneo

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 19, 2019 05:35 PM
7-man CEU sends statement it's a worthy opponent for Ateneo
CEU and Cignal-Ateneo are all even in their best-of-five showdown for the 2019 PBA D-League championship

Against all odds, CEU remains alive and kicking for the championship in the 2019 PBA D-League.

Digging deep and standing strong in the face of a late-game rally from heavily favored Cignal-Ateneo, the Scorpions pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament yet and leveled the best-of-five Finals at one win apiece last Tuesday.

"I think we were able to redeem ourselves today," a beaming head coach Derrick Pumaren said post-game as he and his boys became only the second squad in the season to put a blemish on the record of the Blue Eagles.

Like it has done since the start of the playoffs, CEU did it with just seven players in action - and eight in all suited up.

Jerome Santos turned in a career game with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists while Senegalese reinforcement Maodo Malick Diouf continued to be a force with 23 markers, 16 boards, four steals, two dimes, and two blocks in their 77-74 shocker over Cignal-Ateneo.

Even more, they did it after they were at the wrong end of the most lopsided loss in the Finals in the nine-year history of the developmental league in Game 1. "After that game, what I told my players was more on motivation," coach Derrick shared, referring to the 66-101 decision they surrendered six days ago.

He then continued, "I told them to believe in themselves that we can be in the same league as Ateneo. I'm just happy to see the fight in us."

The big-time takedown is just the latest feather in the cap of the Scorpions who had to dismiss almost half of its team due to game-fixing allegations and then upend higher-seeded teams in Go for Gold-CSB and St. Clare-Virtual Reality in the playoffs.

Even with the big-time takedown, though, CEU is well aware that their hurdle has only become higher with a sure-to-be more determined Cignal-Ateneo side. "I'm sure that Ateneo will be back and be more aggressive. They will want to (get the) jump on us so we just have to be ready for that," he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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