Diliman College squeaked past Centro Escolar University 64-63 Monday to book the first championship berth in the PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League at the Olivarez College gym in Parañaque City.
Robbi Darang drained a jumper with seven seconds left for the top-seeded Blue Dragons to inch closer to retaining the crown on their second finals appearance.
Maodo Diouf tried to lift the fourth-ranked Scorpions in the last four ticks, but a bad pass cost their chance of extending the semifinals into a knockout affair.
Darang finished with eight points, three rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes but made sure to deliver when it mattered most.
Kevin Gandjeto guided Diliman throughout with 13 points and five rebounds, Billshan Digno had 12 points and seven assists, and Jethro Sombero and Abdoulaye Niang merged for 21 points.
The win reaffirmed Diliman’s mastery over CEU, which they beat twice in the eliminations.
Diouf finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and four blocks in a losing effort for the Scorpions. Dave Bernabe and Eric Tuadles also had 12 and 11 points in futile attempts.
Diliman awaits the winner between No. 2 Olivarez College and No. 3 University of Batangas after the UB Brahmans forged a knockout match for the other finals berth with an 89-80 win over the Olivarez Sea Lions.
JJ Caspe and Raoul Yemeli fired 16 points each for the Brahmans, who needed to beat the Sea Lions twice to make it to the next phase. The duo also merged for 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
Don Tabol and Mart De Ramos also stepped up for UB with 11 points apiece.
The knockout semis will be on Nov. 4. Game 1 of the finals will be on Nov. 7 at the same venue.