Lancers forge rub­ber­match

The Freeman - - SPORTS - Em­manuel B. Vil­laruel PAUL JUN E. ROSAROSO

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.

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