June 10, 2019

Saints, Scorpions dispute last finals berth

RIVALS St. Clare College Virtual Reality and Centro Escolar University dispute the last ticket to the 2019 PBA D-League Finals as their best-of-three semifinals series reaches its conclusion on Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

For the Saints, it's a chance to make history as the unheralded school tries to prove that they are one of the elite basketball programs there is in the country.

"Pangarap talaga namin makaabot doon sa Finals kasi di pa namin nararating yun," admitted coach Jinino Manansala.

The Saints forced the deciding Game Three with a dominant 84-50 mauling of the Scorpions last Thursday behind the superb performance of Malian center Mohammad Pare.

Jinino also expects guards Junjie Hallare, Joshua Fontanilla, and Irven Palencia to make their presence felt in the do-or-die match many hopes will be dominated by the Saints.

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Tip-off is at 4 p.m., with the winner facing Cignal-Ateneo in the best-of-five championship showdown.

Even with a depleted roster, the Scorpions remain as formidable, with coach Derrick Pumaren expecting for one last miracle from his eight-man crew.

"Like I said before, win or lose, I'll take it. I'm just proud with how our boys are fighting despite our situation," he said.

Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf will be the rock for CEU. He will be supported by Rich Guinitaran and Franz Diaz in assuming the leadership role for the squad.