CEBU CITY, Philippines – The University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors completed a first round eliminations sweep in the men's basketball tournament of the 15th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) after managing to hold off the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters, 67-62, Tuesday, August 25, at Cebu Coliseum.
It was double victory for USC as the Baby Warriors, its junior basketball team, also beat the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Baby Panthers, 95-78, earlier in the day.
The Warriors of head coach Britt Reroma are the only team to have won all of their games in the first round, toting a clean 6-0 win-loss record.
The seniors or collegiate division, which has a total of 7 teams competing, is played in a double round-robin format, with the first round-robin considered as the first round. The top 4 teams following the second round-robin will then advanced to the semifinals.
Cameroonian import Shooster Olago was once again named the best player of the game with his double-double performance of 22 points and 14 rebounds while Charles Pepito had another big performance with 13 points.
The Webmasters came dangerously close several times, the closest margin was 3 points, 49-52, on a trey from Melvin Butohan at the start of the final canto.
However, Olago combined with Caesar Ian Ortega to widen the gap to seven points, 56-49.
A rainbow shot from Joseph Daniel Mayol brought the Webmasters closer at 4 points but Olago once again came to the rescue by throwing apart the Webmasters' press under the basket earning two freebies which he effortlessly converted and sank a basket to wedge an 8-point advantage for the Warriors.
The Webmasters was down by 10 points with 3 minutes left but baskets from Justine Dacalos and Clint Suelto and a triple from Peter Paul Codilla with less than a minute left made the Webmasters the only team to have lost to the Warriors by the smallest of margins at just 5 points.
The Warriors dominated the first half as they pulled away from a 5-all tie in the first quarter to hold as much as a 12-point advantage over the Webmasters, who only managed to cut the lead down to 6 points before the Warriors once again pulls ahead.
The loss dropped the Webmasters to 4th place in the standings with a win-loss record of 3-2 as they are left with just a game against the defending champions, Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras, on August 31, to close out their first round.
Baby Warriors stay unbeaten
In the secondary battle, the USC Baby Warriors also kept their record immaculate at 4-0 as they moved to second place behind the defending champion, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles who is leading with a 5-0 win-loss record.
The secondary or high school division, which has a total of 9 teams seeing action, is played with a single round robin format in the elimination with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals, teams finishing at 3rd, 4th and 5th places will play in the quarterfinals while teams ending their campaign from the 7th place down will be eliminated.
Alje Mendez, who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and one assist was named best player.
While the Baby Warriors led as much as 20 points inside the last two-minute mark, the ballgame had actually been closer than the final score implied as the Baby Warriors saw its 6-point lead in the first quarter erased when the USPF Baby Panthers managed to send the game back to square one on Christopher Macalam's dropshot with 46 seconds remaining before halftime.
George Cometa then gave the Baby Panthers a slim 2-point lead but Mendez last second layup allowed the Baby Warriors to end the first half on a tie, 41-all.
The Baby Panthers opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run to finally snatch the lead from the Baby Warriors. However, Joshua Laurente, Briedyn Aleyth Smith and Jholo Pakanna contributed a basket each for a 52-all, the third time the teams deadlocked.
The lead then swung both ways until the 4th quarter wherein the Baby Warriors started piling up the points which was triggered by a trey from Ken Gato.
The loss dropped the USPF Baby Panthers, last year's third placer, to current 4th place in the standings with their 3-2 win-loss record.
Meanwhile, fans will enjoy another exciting ballgame on August 27 with the defending champion SWU Cobras facing the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers, a 10-time CESAFI collegiate champion, but only placed 3rd last year.
August 27, Thursday @ Cebu Coliseum
5:15 PM – USJR vs CEC (Juniors)
6:45 PM – UV vs SWU (Seniors)
First Game: (Juniors)
USC (95) - Smith 20, Mendez 18, Gato 13, Laurente 11, Chavez 8, Canieso 6, Pakanna 4, Macandog 4, Mendoza 3, Fontanosa 2, Mangaron 2, Damolo 2, Octaviano 2, Bande 0, Ranuco 0.
USPF (78) - Hernando 20, Obenza 17, Cometa 12, Macalam 8, Archival 8, Peligrino 4, Ybañez 4, Justol 3, Lequin 2, Soon 0, Fermin 0, Tajo 0, Urot 0, Sandoval 0.
Quarter Scores: 23-17; 41-41; 63-60; 95-78.
Second Game: (Seniors)
USC (67) - Olago 22, Pepito 13, Ortega 9, Tagapan 7, Magat 5, Rabat 5, Suarez 4, Laguyo 2, Maconocido 0, Adlawan 0, Lim 0.
UC (62) - Butohan 18, Dacalos 11, Puerto 10, Codilla 8, Jabello 7, Suelto 5, Mayol 3, Culango 0, Dumat-ol 0, Tagudin 0, Luzares 0.
Quarter Scores: 16-10; 30-22; 52-46; 67-62.