CEBU CITY, Philippines - The University of Cebu (UC) is keeping its title hopes alive after winning their semifinal matches in the 17th CESAFI basketball tournament on Tuesday, October 3, at the New Cebu Coliseum.
In the collegiate division, the UC Webmasters stayed in contention by winning their first semifinals meeting against the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) Jaguars, 81-71.
Their junior counterpart, the UC Junior Webmasters, also kept junior title in sight after eliminating the USJR Baby Jaguars, 87-73.
The win earned them the right to face the second seeded team, the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles, which will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage, for finishing second after the elimination round.
This will not be an easy task for the Junior Webmasters though because the Magis Eagles are the defending champions and they are gunning for their fifth CESAFI junior title.
Whichever team wins between the Magis Eagles and the Junior Webmasters will earn the right to face the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers. The Baby Lancers clinched an automatic entry into the finals after sweeping their elimination games.
While the Baby Jaguars are already out of the title contest, their older brothers – the Jaguars – still have a chance to advance to the finals as they enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage having finished the elimination round at the second spot.
The Webmasters got much help from their team captain Garciano “Garexx” Puerto Jr., who dished out 20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. Also contributing much was the Webmasters import, Cameroonian Frederick Ngoh Elombi, who for the nth time this season, had another double-double performance with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Another player who had an impact for UC was Joren Tagudin who finished with 14 points after sinking 3 of his 6 3-point attempts.
The Webmasters had drawn first blood immediately taking a five point lead as soon as the ballgame started but the Jaguars managed to tie the game at 7-all on a trey from Tricky Dyn Peromingan.
They then held on to the lead until Elombi scored 6 straight points to give the Webmasters a slim 1-point lead, 14-13, at the 1:22 mark of the first quarter.
The game was tied again at 16-all but Ralph Jude Dinolan and Jaybie Mantilla split their charities to hand the Jaguars a 2-point lead, 18-16, going into the second quarter.
The smaller Jaguars who have no import managed to keep the game in their favor but could only manage to distance themselves by mere 4 points with Puerto keeping the Webmasters close with his 8 straight points.
After the Webmasters managed to wedge a gap on Tagudin’s basket, they didn’t look back from there and posted a 10-point advantage, 46-36, at the halftime break.
The third canto saw the Webmasters further pulling away by as much as 20 points, 68-48, at the end of the third quarter.
They relentlessly continued to manhandle the Jaguars, who had trouble converting their charities, and had their lead ballooning to as much as 26 points until they started committing mistakes again, allowing the Jaguars to come closer.
However, time was not on the Jaguars’ side even as the Webmasters went scoreless in the last four minutes of the ballgame.
The Jaguars was topscored by Mantilla, the leading MVP contender, with 13 points. Also contributing much were Julius Pacanuayan with 11 points and Dinolan with 10 points.
The high school contest also saw the Junior Webmasters taking the lead early on but the Baby Jaguars managed to also bring the game to a deadlock 3 times in the first half.
Despite that, the Junior Webmasters were able to take a 6-point lead, 37-31, at the halftime break.
The Baby Jaguars were a goner as soon as the Junior Webmasters opened the third canto with 3 treys, two from John Bryl Cuyos and one from Yannick Noah Enriquez.
From there, the Junior Webmasters were able to tighten their grip on the lead which they did not relinquish enroute to the win.
Cuyos topscored for the Webmasters with 25 points while Enriquez, Kyle Fritz Ordeniza and Allan Dave Peligrino each added 13 points.
The Baby Jaguars, on the other hand, only had Arnold Ando and Mel Louise Leonora scoring in double figures. Ando with 21 and Leonora with 10 points.
UC Junior Webmasters (87) - Cuyos 25, Enriquez 13, Ordeniza 13, Peligrino 13, Orquez 7, Villasan 7, Mondares 5, Nebril 2, Tago-on 2.
USJR Baby Jaguars (73) - Ando 21, Leonora 10, Echavez 8, Robles 6, Ranara 11, Gonzaga 10, Tindoy 3, Guibao 2, Teleron 2.
UC Webmasters (81) - Puerto 20, Elombi 19, Tagudin 14, Jabello 12, Dacalos 11, Olmilla 4, Kishimoto 1.
USJR Jaguars (71) - Mantilla 13, Pacanuayan 11, Dinolan 10, Catiloc 9, Gastador 7, Calang 6, Navarra 6, Nuñez 4, Peromingan 4, Ubalde 1.