CEBU CITY, Philippines – Charles Pepito's double-double earned him his thirs "Best Player" honor as the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors solidified their hold of the top spot with an 83-70 putdown of the Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) Wildcats in Tuesday, September 15's resumption of the 15th CESAFI men's basketball tournament held at the New Cebu Coliseum.
Pepito scored 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Ian Jefferson Tagapan led the Warriors with 13 points Cameroonian import Shooster Olago chipped in 12 points.
The Wildcats were led by its one-two punch of Jose Allan Dimco and Joshua Romelle dela Cerna, who contributed 15 points a piece despite the latter only finding his rhythm in the final canto. Steven Bucao added 14.
The win allows the Warriors to continue donning the mantle of league leader with an 8-1 win-loss record while the Wildcats' final four campaign has faded as they now tote a 4-7 card to exchange places with the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters from fifth to sixth place, whose hopes they inadvertently kept alive. While the Wildcats have one more game remaining in the eliminations, UC still has three games in line.
Dimco and Dela Cerna started the ball rolling, giving the Wildcats a slim two-point lead but as soon as the Warriors tied the game at 4-all, they then rained three-pointers, one each from Izak Kiefer Lim, Caesar Ian Ortega, Tagapan, Christian Maconocido and Nicolas Kyle Magat which had the Wildcats staring at a 12-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
After a 12-minute stoppage of the game with 4 minutes remaining going into the second canto, rain once again trickled from the roof unto the court making it dangerous for the players to continue playing.
Five charities from Dimco and Dela Cerna allowed the Wildcats to come close at seven points, 24-31, but they couldn't contain Tagapan and Olago who combined to end the first half at 44-31 in favor of the Warriors.
The Warriors continued their dominance in the third quarter, erecting a 25-point lead twice at 64-39 and 69-44 on the gift shots of William McAloney and Victor Manuel Rabat. Tagapan also exploded with 7 points to keep the Warriors almost impossible to conquer going into the final quarter.
Dela Cerna, who was heavily guarded by McAloney, then waxed hot with 8 points, and while the last two minutes of the ballgame was an all Wildcats show, all they managed was to narrow the Warriors' winning margin to 13 points.
The Warriors hope to collect the scalps of the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) Jaguars, whom they will face next on Thursday, September 17 still at the New Cebu Coliseum.
Games on Thursday, September 17 at New Cebu Coliseum:
5:15 PM – USC vs UC (Juniors, Semifinals)
6:45 PM – USJR vs USC (Seniors, Eliminations)
USC (83): Tagapan 13, Olago 12, Pepito 12, Magat 11, Maconocido 9, McAloney 8, Lim 5, Ortega 5, Rabat 4, Laguyo 3, Suarez 0, Oleodo 0.
CIT-U (70): Dimco 15, Dela Cerna 15, Bucao 14, Pono 8, Kong 7, Sanchez 4, Muñez 3, Lucena 2, Maglasang 2, Mumar 0, Marquez 0.
Quarter Scores: 29-17; 44-31; 69-47; 83-70.