THE University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters kept its hope alive to make it to the championship round as they dominated the second half to forge a do-or-die game for the finals slot. They beat the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars, 81-71, in the college division semifinal match of the 2017 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) basketball tournament last night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The UC Baby Webmasters, on the other hand, moved up to play the defending champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles after eliminating the USJ-R Baby Jaguars, following an 87-73 win in the high school division knockout playoff game earlier.
UC shifted to a diamond-and-one zone defense in the fourth period to break away from a hotly contested three quarters.
After USJ-R center Arnold Dave Ando dominated the middle and scored 11 points in the third period, UC coach Joevir Samonte shifted to the 1-1-2-1 defense in the fourth to take out the advantage of the Baby Jaguars in the middle.
Offensively, UC went to its team captain John Bryl Cuyos, who scored 13 of his game high 25 points, and Allen Peligrino, who made 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter.
The fourth quarter explosion of UC was in contrast to the first three quarters that saw a tough contest until the Baby Webmasters settled for the lead after coach Samonte called his only timeout in the second half at the 6:20 mark of the third period.
Aside from Cuyos and Peligrino, Kyle Ordeniza, who scored eight in the second period, and Yannick Enriquez, who made six in the third to help UC sustain its lead, finished with 13 points each. Ando topscored for USJ-R with 21 points, Theo Gabriel Ranara made 11 and John Kirck Gonzaga and Mel Louise Leonora scored 10 points each.
In the college game, USJ-R surprisingly failed to deliver their usual game. As a result, UC dictated the tempo of the game and were leading the rest of the way after holding the Jaguars to make only six points in the last six minutes of the second quarter.
USJ-R had a fluid game, engaging the Webmasters in a hefty trade of baskets when suddenly, UC made spurts that left the Jaguars in the dust after leading 30-27 at the 6:53 mark.
USJ-R's last lead was at 32-21 at 4:18 mark when UC blew the game wide open with a 15-4 run to close the first half with a 46-36 lead.
USJ-R opened the third period with a quick 4-0 run but UC countered with a series of runs that eventually gave them a 20-point lead, 68-48 at the close of the quarter.
UC's biggest lead was at 78-52 before USJ-R made an end game 13-0 blast.
Garciano Puerto topscored for UC with 20 points, the Cameroonian center Frederick Elombi had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Joven Tagudin contributed 14 points. John Jabello scattered 12 points and Justine Dacalos added 11 points while diminutive guard Jaybie Mantilla led USJ-R producers with 13 points and seven rebounds. Julius Pacanuayan made 11 and Ralph Dinolan finished with 10 for the erratic Jaguars. (RCM)