3 C. Escolar fives begin Naascu title drives
The National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (Naascu) basketball finals resume today with Games 1 of the men’s, juniors and women’s finals at Makati Coliseum.
Disrupted last Friday by rains and floods brought by Tropical Storm “Mario,” Centro Escolar University will go for the early headway in all three divisions against St. Clare in the men’s and juniors finals, and against Rizal Technological in the women’s title series of the triple-header that fires off at 9 a.m.
CEU coach Egay Macaraya, whose charges swept all their 12 games in the eliminations, said they will not take chances against the Saints in the highly anticipated rematch of last year’s men’s championship showdown.
“St. Clare is a tough team and this is a strong league,” said Macaraya. “Our only advantage is we have remained intact and we have the experience.”
The long break allowed the Saints to make key adjustments against the Scorpions who dealt them their two losses during the eliminations.
St. Clare coach Jino Manansala said they have learned lessons from their previous defeats. The Saints dropped a 59-57 decision to the Scorpions in the second round and had to upend RTU in the step-ladder semifinals to advance to the finals.
Last year, the defending champion Scorpions also swept their elimination matches only to see their streak halted by the Saints in Game 1 of the finals.
Underscoring the strengths of both teams, the cores of CEU and St. Clare play in the PBA D-League. Both teams also saw action in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League where the Scorpions finished third.
Congolese Rodrigue Ebondo will be the pillar of CEU offense, along with rookie guard Earven Silverie and veteran wingmen Aaron Jeruta, Joseph Sedurifa and Samboy de Leon.
St. Clare is expected to lean on Jayson Ibay, Marte Gil, Jan Acebron, Darwin Lunor, Jammer Jamito and Elmer Managuelod. Cameroonian Fabien Redoh could also be a big factor in the series.