CEBU CITY, Philippines – Finally, the first round of eliminations for the collegiate division of the men's basketball tournament of the 15th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) ended with the defending champion Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras routing the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters, 74-60, Thursday, September 3 at the New Cebu Coliseum.
In the junior division, the USC Baby Warriors ended its two-game skid by overcoming a sluggish start against the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) Baby Jaguars, 75-58.
The Cobras end the first round at third place with a 4-2 win-loss record while the Webmasters finished just 2-4.
However, because both teams have already played their first game assignments in the second round of eliminations prior to this match, the Cobras currently tote a 5-2 card following their heart-stopping defeat of league leader University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors last August 30, while the Webmasters holds a 3-4 record after its routing of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) last September 1.
Adding salt to injury for the Webmasters was Jan Michael Auditor, who formerly played for the Webmasters but now suits up for the Cobras, being named best player with his 14 points and 4 rebounds.
The Webmasters was very much in the game at the starting quarter even maintaining a two-point lead until the 3:47 mark when a layup from former teammate Auditor tied the game at 10-all, the third in that canto.
Two baskets from Jesse Bautista and Melvin Holper each allowed the Cobras to pull away with a 4-point advantage but a triple from Melvin Butohan brought the Webmasters close by just a point.
A Mark Christopher Racho basket, however, ended the first quarter in favor of the Cobras, 15-13.
It was in the second quarter that the Cobras was able to wedge a wider gap against the Webmasters, whose woes from beyond the arc started. They just couldn't sink their rainbow attempts, managing only 6 in 49 attempts.
What was a 7-point advantage for the Cobras at the end of the first half, ballooned to as much as 13 points following back-to-back baskets from Bautista with less than two minutes going into the final canto.
The Cobras eventually posted its highest lead at 17 points with 5 minutes left in the ballgame.
Despite Justine Dacalos unloading nine points, it wasn't enough to bring the Cobras down especially with Bautista, who topscored for the Cobras with 20 points, once again becoming unstoppable towards the end.
In the junior contest, the Baby Warriors improved its record to 5-2 while the Baby Jaguars dropped to 4-3.
The Baby Warriors still have one more game to play against the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers on September 5 to end their eliminations campaign.
However, even if they lose that game, the Baby Warriors are already assured of the no. 2 spot and an automatic entry into the semifinals. This because a loss will put them in a tie with the UC Junior Webmasters which ended the eliminations with a 5-3 card. A two-way tie will be broken by “winner-over-the-other”, and because the Baby Warriors defeated the Junior Webmasters, then it will be the former who will take the no. 2 spot.
Jomari Ranuco, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the final quarter, was tagged as the best player. He also went 2 of 3 in his 3-point field goal attempts and managed 1 block.
The Baby Warriors came to life in the second quarter after trailing the Baby Jaguars by 8 points, 29-37, in the first half.
Jholo Pakanna gave the Baby Warriors a 1-point lead, 50-49, at the end of the third canto. Alje Mendez and Ranuco then waxed hot at the start of the final canto to bring the Baby Warriors lead up to 10 points, 59-49, with still six minutes remaining in the canto.
The Baby Jaguars couldn't just catch up as they were held scoreless until the sixth minute when John Kirck Gonzaga managed to split his charities. Still, the Baby Jaguars only managed nine points before the ballgame ended.
Meanwhile, the UV Lancers will get a chance to overcome an upset that they suffered from the Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) Wildcats last August 30 when they faced the USJR Jaguars, September 4.
Game schedule - September 4, Friday
5 PM – UV vs USJR (SENIORS)
SWU (74) - Bautista 20, Auditor 14, Luz 14, Holper 9, Tallo 8, Racho 5, Clam 4, Pardo 0.
UC (60) - Dacalos 11, Butohan 8, Puerto 8, Culango 8, Mayol 6, Tagudin 5, Codilla 4, Grafilo 3, Montilla 0, Suelto 0, Dumat-ol 0, Luzares 0.
Quarter Scores: 15-13; 35-28; 53-41; 74-60.
USC (75) - Mendez 14, Ranuco 13, Smith 10, Pakanna 10, Mangaron 6, Macandog 6, Chavez 4, Gato 4, Canieso 4, Bande 2, Laurente 2, Damolo 0, Fontanosa 0, Octaviano 0, Medoza 0.
USJ-R (58) - Gonzaga 14, Teleron 14, Ortiz 10, Dela Cruz 9, Enriquez 5, Ando 3, Ibero 2, Dado 1, Camacho 0.
Quarter Scores: 16-20; 37-29; 50-49; 75-58. – Rappler.com