C. Escolar, St. Clare kick off Naascu title series

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ST. CLARE guns for back-to-back championship against a Centro Escolar squad looking all set for a breakthrough triumph as they begin their best-of-three title series today in the National Athletics Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (Naascu) men’s basketball tournament at Makati Coliseum.

Things, however, look complicated this time for the Scorpions, who are handled by a newly acquired champion coach who guided them to an 11-0 sweep of the eliminations for an outright finals berth.

Centro Escolar coach Egay Macaraya, who steered the now defunct San Sebastian-Cavite team to two successive titles from 2008, tried to downplay the chances of the Scorpions going into the 10:30 a.m. clash.

St. Clare coach Jinno Manansala’s charges lost twice to the Scorpions in the eliminations.

“Those two losses, we will use them to make adjustments,” said Manansala, who shaved his head like his men in a show of unity and determination. “Man for man we can match up with them.”

The Saints will rely on a tall and fast lineup led by Jayson Ibay, Jam Jamito, Dennis Santos, Bong Managuelod and Marte Gil.

Manning the fort for the Scorpions are Joseph Sedurifa, Alvin Abundo, Samboy de Leon, Rodrigue Ebondo and last year’s junior MVP Aaron Jeruta.

CEU is also eyeing the titles in women’s and juniors tournaments where it is also undefeated this season. The defending champion Baby Scorpions is favored at the start of another best-of-three series against the Fatima Baby Phoenix at 9 a.m. after the Lady Scorpions square off with the Rizal Technological Lady Blue Thunder at 7:30 a.m.

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