THE University of the Visayas Green Lancers sneaky forward Jerome Napao battled through a tough University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars defense as he led the fourth quarter rebounding of the defending champions for an exhausting 82-72 win in the collegiate division competition of the 2017 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) basketball tournament held at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
As things turned sour for the Lancers, who lost a 13-point lead early in the third period, coach Gary Cortes turned to Napao, a reliable defensive specialist and an offensive rebounder, to neutralize the attacks of the Jaguars, who were gaining momentum after snatching the driver’s seat towards the end of the penultimate period.
Napao and Monic Soliva engaged the Jaguars in a heated exchange of baskets a good four minutes before UV regained control of the battle, 68-65, with 5:51 left to play in the final period.
Liberian Bassieru Sackor and Rey Suerte then joined the scoring spree to zap all the efforts of the Jaguars who gave up a total of 27 second chance points, and the opportunity to face a “weaker” opponent in the semifinal round.
UV opened up the game on a 9-0 start before USJ-R countered with a 12-2 blitz for its first taste the of lead.
But with UV’s team captain Joshue Segumpan finding his marks early, USJ-R was quickly overwhelmed and were staring at a 34-20 deficit, which they managed to bring down to a 28-34 margin using the combined efforts of Ralph Jude Dinolan and Tricky Peromingan.
UV took the lead back to a double digit 40-30 with a quick 6-2 spurt, capped by Soliva’s buzzer beating triple to end the first half.
However, after a short exchange at the start of the third, USJ-R quickly dropped a 19-2 blast that put them back on top 49-48 and kept the precarious lead until the end of the third period, before their efforts were ditched by the Lancers who now improved to 10-1 while handing the Jaguars its third loss in 11 games.
Soliva who played his best game of the season topscored for UV with 15 points, Napao finished in double digit – 13 points and 11 rebounds, Sackor also had 13 points and Segumpan and Suerte each contributed 10 points while Jaybie Mantilla who was held scoreless in the final period and Dinolan scored 15 points each and Peromingan and Gastador made 11 markers, respectively, for USJ-R.
Meanwhile, the University of San Carlos Warriors blew a 23-point lead in the second quarter before surviving the comeback of Southwestern University Cobras for a 76-72 win to make a strong campaign for the third spot.
Kurt Trangia and Malcolm Tan made 13 points each, Kevin Oleodo added 11 and Victor Rabat and Julius Cadavis finished with 10 points each as USC improved to 7-4 while Jovanie Luz scored 15 points and Mark Racho and Gerald Fernandez contributed 14 points each as SWU finished season with 4-8 win-loss card. (RCM)