In fact, the Eagles are coming into the 4 p.m. match confident but wary of the Scorpions who bucked the odds to gain a crack at the crown, going on an incredible run including a huge 89-72 romp over the St. Clare College-Virtual Reality side in the sudden death of their semifinal duel.
Joey Mendoza, PBA Images
Mighty Eagles, gritty Scorpions start title face-off
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2019 - 12:00am

Game today (Filoil Flying V Centre)

4 p.m. – Cignal-Ateneo vs CEU

MANILA, Philippines — Installed as the heavy favorite against a badly undermanned rival, Cignal-Ateneo opts to soften the hype that surrounds its chances against Centro Escolar U as they face off in the opener of their best-of-five showdown for the PBA D-League crown at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan today.

In fact, the Eagles are coming into the 4 p.m. match confident but wary of the Scorpions who bucked the odds to gain a crack at the crown, going on an incredible run including a huge 89-72 romp over the St. Clare College-Virtual Reality side in the sudden death of their semifinal duel.

“They’re in the finals for a reason. They’ve been playing undermanned and that’s what makes them dangerous,” said Ateneo deputy coach Sandy Arespacochaga whose wards are fresh from a week-long rest after sweeping Valencia City Bukidnon-SSCR in their own Final Four clash last week. 

But the Eagles vowed to go all out from opening tipoff and not to fall into a false sense of security against the Scorpions, who have been playing with just eight men since the quarterfinals following the investigation of the other eight in game-fixing allegations.

“It’s gonna be tough for us so we’ll be ready,” added Arespacochaga.

For CEU head coach Derrick Pumaren, reaching the finals is already a moral victory for his wards, who had played beyond expectations to earn a shot at the championship.

“It feels like we’re already a champion. This team is already a champion,” said Pumaren. “We only have eight players but now, we’re here in the finals. We made it. It’s still unbelievable for me.”

Still, Pumaren told his wards not to be satisfied with their feat and urged them to go for the championship.

“We know we’re the underdogs against Ateneo. We’re facing the No. 1 college team in the land. But outside of the UAAP and the NCAA, we believe that we also have one of the best basketball programs,” added Pumaren who will bank on Senegalese slotman Maodo Malick Diouf to lead their upset bid.

Backing Diouf are locals Rich Guinitaran, Kurt Sunga, France Diaz and Dave Bernabe, who stepped up big time with 22 points and 14 rebounds in their finals clinching win against the Saints the other day.

CIGNAL-ATENEO VS CEU
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