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CEBU CITY, Philippines – The University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors barged into the finals for the second straight year of the CESAFI men’s basketball tournament by prevailing over the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers, 79-75, in overtime Thursday, October 1 at the New Cebu Coliseum.
At the same time, the Warriors also avenged the loss that they suffered at the hands of the Green Lancers last September 20, 43-74, which had them tasting their lowest output of the season.
There seems to be no stopping USC’s power forward Charles Pepito as he collected his fifth best player of the ballgame laurel with another double-double performance of 23 points, as he went 11-15 in field goals, and collected 14 rebounds. He also accounted for 3 steals.
In the other semifinals game, the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) Jaguars kept their title chances alive by outsmarting defending champion Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras, 81-75.
The Jaguars got their much needed power from Kevin Rey Villafranca whose double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds also accorded him the best player honors. He also had 2 blocks.
While the USC is already assured of a finals ticket regardless of the outcome of their last semifinals game against the USJR Jaguars, a win by the latter and a win by the UV Lancers against the SWU Cobras will put them in a tie. However, it will be UV who will advance to the finals by virtue of a simple tie because USJR had lost to UV, 77-87, in their semifinals meeting.
Or a triple tie scenario could ensue among USJR, UV and SWU should the Green Lancers lose and USJR win, the defending champion Cobras could advance to the finals provided that they win against the Green Lancers by at least 12 points.
This means that CESAFI fans can expect another exciting games this Saturday especially with the USC Baby Warriors and the UV Baby Lancers contesting the third place honors in the juniors division.
USC prevails over UV in OT
In what could be a preview for the finals and in a game that had the top 1 and top 2 teams vying for a finals ticket, it is not surprising to see the game deadlocked six times and the lead change hands several times in the first half alone.
However, at the start of the second half, with the Green Lancers once again tying the game at 39-all on a layup by Jun Kent Manzo III, UV then surged to a 7-point lead which they held at the end of the third quarter, 52-54.
The final quarter, however, saw the Warriors eat up the Green Lancers lead and once they had the advantage on their side on a basket by Cameroonian import Shooster Olago at the 6:20 mark, did not relinquished it.
The Green Lancers was not playing in their top form with their own import Steve Akomo committing four goaltending violations, star playmaker Leonard Santillan having trouble connecting with the net not to mention losing ball possession twice and Jerome Napao not making his charities. Despite that, they have Alfred Codilla and Arvie Cabanero to thank for letting them stay in the game.
Trailing by just two points with 39.9 seconds left, 68-70, all seemed lost for UV when Francisco Arong missed his drive but Manzo, who has been very consistent in leading the Green Lancers, appropriately kept them alive with a basket that tied the game at 70-all.
USC failed to score in the return play and thus the extension.
Both teams were even at the start, but Pepito gave the USC Warriors the lead for good at 79-74 with 17.9 seconds left.
All the Green Lancers could manage was split charities from Napao which allowed the Warriors to march on to the finals.
SWU title chances fade
Not about to give up despite being undermanned, the defending champions SWU Cobras ended the first half in their favor with a 4-point advantage at 37-33.
They tenaciously held on to this lead with two-time most valuable player Mark Jayven “Macmac” Tallo and Juju Bautista combining their efforts but the Jaguars still managed to sway the game’s momentum to their side with baskets from Villafranca, Jaybie Mantilla, Juan Miguel Gastador, Nelvin Navarra and Ralph Jude Dinolan.
Despite the Cobras threatening at just a point behind on Tallo’s basket with 5:47 left in the ballgame, the Jaguars stuck to the lead.
The Cobras closed in once again at just 3 points behind on Jovanie Luz’s basket but a triple play by Gastador sealed the win for the Jaguars.
USJ-R (81) – Dinolan 22, Villafranca 22, Gastador 19, Mantilla 9, Navarra 3, Senining 2, Bayhonan 2, Labares 2, Risma 0.
SWU (75) – Tallo 19, Bautista 19, Luz 13, Pardo 13, Racho 6, Holper 5, Gonzaga 0, Clam 0.
Quarter Scores: 18-18; 33-37; 59-58; 81-75.
USC (79) – Pepito 23, Olago 18, Tagapan 14, Rabat 6, Maconocido 5, Ortega 4, McAloney 4, Laguyo 2, Suarez 2, Magat 0, Lim 0.
UV (75) – Manzo 20, Akomo 17, Suerte 13, Codilla 7, Arong 6, Santillan 5, Aguirre 4, Cabañero 2, Napao 1, Segumpan 0.
Quarter Scores: 16-16; 32-29; 45-52; 70-70 (Reg.); 79-75 (F/OT). – Rappler.com