Lancers forge rubbermatch
For years, Friday the 13th has always been considered as an unlucky day.
For the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers, it came as a stroke of luck.
With their crown at stake, the Lancers battled back with fury after losing an early 12-point lead, then weathered a spirited endgame resistance by the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters to pull of a series-tying 77-66 victory in the collegiate division finals of the 17th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) men's basketball tournament last night at the Cebu Coliseum.
Do-it-all forward Jerome Napao sizzled with 18 points spiked with 10 rebounds and two blocks as the Lancers forged a rubbermatch with the Webmasters in their best-ofthree championship duel that is a surefire blockbuster at 4 p.m. this Sunday.
Vaunted longe-range bomber Tristan Albina also came up with 18 points that went along with three rebounds and two steals, while Rey Suerte contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Lancers, who wasted away an early 21-9 lead.
Still down by eight, 13- 21, the Webmasters came out firing at the start of the second period, with Cameroonian import Frederick Elombi hitting a perfect 4-of-4 at mid-range before Ruben Ludovice banked his own longjumper to pull their side to within 23-25.
The Lancers quickly regained a 31-25 edge but Elombi, Justin Dacalos and Joven Tagudin put their acts together in an 11-0 blitz to vault the Webmasters on top by five at the break, 36-31.
The Webmasters sustained their momentum leading to a 48-38 advantage but things were never the same again for them after Dacalos, their top playmaker, fouled out with still 5:06 left in the third period.
As UC's offense had gone awry, UV capitalized on the opportunity behind the efforts of Albina, Josue Segumpan and Jan Monic Soliva, who masterminded a searing 13-0 run that put the Lancers on the driver's seat again, 51-48.
Suerte later joined the binge as the Lancers barreled towards a 66-57 edge.
The Webmasters staged a last ditch rally to close within 65-58 on seven straight points by Garex Puerto and Michael Gonzaga, but Napao banked a 3-pointer to give the Lancers a 71-65 breather with 1:53 left to play.
As the Webmasters crumbled under pressure, Suerte and Albina went 4of-4 from the foul line in the final 37 seconds before Albina settled the final tally.
Soliva was the other double-digit scorer for the Lancers with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Elombi cashed in 19 points but was held off to a season-low four rebounds. Joren Tagudin had 12 points, Ludovice made his precence felt with 10 points and a career-best 16 rebounds, but the missing link for the Webmasters was John Calvin Jabello, who was handcuffed to paltry two points.
Before the game, combo guard Jaybie Mantilla of the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars stole the spotlight after being honored as the league's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first USJ-R cager to achieve the feat in the CESAFI era.
Mantilla is joined in the Mythical Five by UV's Suerte and Napao, UC's Puerto, and John Reel Saycon of the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors.
Rey Suerte of UV shoots past UC's Cameroonian import Frederick Elombi during Game 2 of their best-of-three CESAFI collegiate basketball finals last night at the Cebu Coliseum. UV won, 77-66, to forge knockout Game 3 this Sunday.