Marcelo Daniel Marcelo of CEU drives hard to the basket.

CEU, La Salle take D-L semis openers

April 26, 2024 Theodore P. Jurado 276 views

DANIEL Marcelo sparkled as Centro Escolar University took the semifinals opener at the expense of Marinerong Pilipino-San Beda, 75-71, in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Thursday night at the Ynares Sports Arena.

Marcelo waxed hot in the fourth period while Dylan Darbin and Jerome Santos took care of the insurance free throws to rescue the Scorpions from almost wasting a double-digit lead in the second half and score their second straight win against the Red Lions.

“We don’t want to come into the game thinking that we’re the No. 2 team. I reminded them that San Beda will be a different team in the semis and we’re still the Davids here, not the Goliaths,” said CEU coach Jeff Perlas.

“We just have to keep believing that we belong here. Our players have to bring that David inside them and they did,” he added.

Defending two-time champion EcoOil-DLSU downed Go Torakku-St. Clare, 85-65, in last Thursday’s opener to also move closer to the Finals.

Marcelo dropped 14 of his 31 points in the payoff period, none bigger than the booming triple to give the Scorpions a 71-66 lead in the final minute.

Abdub-Wahab Olusesi anchored CEU’s defensive stand with 15 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks and two steals while Darbin complemented Marcelo in scoring with 10 points to fill the the injury of ace guard Franz Diaz.

The Scorpions, who took a 72-63 win over the Red Lions in the eliminations that ultimately became the factor in finishing second for an outright semis ticket, eyes to complete the reversal on Tuesday at the same Pasig venue.

Diaz went down in the first half with an ankle injury and never returned but Marcelo rose to the occasion and made up for more than it to prevent CEU’s meltdown from a 54-44 lead late in the third quarter.

Marinero-San Beda moved to within 55-58 on Yukien Andrada’s triple halfway through the payoff period when Marcelo strung five straight including a three-pointer to restore order at 63-58.

And just when the Red Lions knocked on the Scorpions’ door once again at 66-68 in the last minute, it was Marcelo who delivered the goods anew with yet another big trey.

Darbin and Santos took over from there with two free throws each to ice the deal amidst Marinero-San Beda’s multiple fightback attempts, the latest at 71-73 after Bryan Sajonia’s three free throws in the last 22 seconds.

RC Calimag scored 13 points, Jomel Puno and Sajonia fired 12 points apiece as other aces Andrada and James Payosing fouled out down the wire to hurt the Red Lions’ chances to come back and exact payback on their tormentor.