Centro Escolar University warded off a furious comeback by Lyceum of the Philippines-Batangas to pull off a 66-53 win and close out its first round campaign on a winning note yesterday in the PG Flex Linoleum Universities and Colleges Basketball League at the Olivarez College gym in Parañaque City.
The CEU Scorpions dictated the tempo of the game but needed the valiant efforts of Senegalese center Maodo Malick Diouf, Bling Murillo and Franz Diaz to prevail after the Pirates pulled to within 60-53.
The 6-foot-7 Diouf was two rebounds short of completing a 20-20 performance after erupting for 20 points and 18 boards.
CEU thus finished the round with a 5-2 mark, tying Olivarez College for second to third places.
The two teams, however, will slide down no matter what happens to the game between undefeated Diliman College and second-running University of Batangas.
The Diliman Blue Dragons (6-0) and the UB Brahmans (5-1) were still playing at presstime.
In the other game, Philippine Christian University-Dasmariñas dumped newcomer National College of Business and Arts, 112-74, and finished with a 2-5 card.
The NCBA Wildcats dropped all their seven games to finish dead last in the elims.
Diaz was equally impressive, adding 10 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from their field aside from posting five assists, three rebounds, and three steals.
The Pirates will carry their 3-4 card into the next round.
Lucien Mulanda paced the Dolphins with18 points and 14 rebounds while Aliane Lapasaran added 11 points, nine boards and six assists.