THE Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles came alive in the second half and escaped the gutsy University of Southern Philippines-Foundation (USP-F) Baby Panthers, 75-72, in the high school division of the 2019 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Partners Cup at the Cebu Coliseum on Sunday, June 23, 2019.

LA Casinillo scored the go-ahead bucket with 56 seconds left to play and Reymark Narbasa made one free throw and grabbed an offensive rebound as the Magis Eagles extended their win streak to two games.

Casinillo drove to the basket with less than a minute to play to give the Magis Eagles a 73-72 lead. USP-F’s Jerwin Espina was fouled on the other end but he missed both free throws.

Narbasa was sent to the free throw line with four seconds to play. He made the first free throw and missed the second but got the offensive rebound as the time expired.

“Actually, this preseason, our goal is to keep on improving every game. The goal is to play better than our last game. Keep on improving for us to be ready come the regular season,” SHS-AdC head coach Rommel Rasmo told SunStar Cebu after the game.

The Magis Eagles played back-to-back games this weekend, winning against the University of San Carlos (USC) Baby Warriors, 81-47, on June 22, before facing the Baby Panthers.

Despite playing without key players Elnah Singson and Kyle Ochavo, who served a one-game suspension, USP-F had a good start with a 24-16 lead in the first quarter.

USP-F led 42-35 at halftime after Ramon Singson drilled back-to-back three-pointers at the dying seconds of the second period.

The Magis Eagles used a full-court press after the break and managed to take the lead for the first time, thanks to the 8-0 run at the start of the third period. The game was a nip-and-tuck affair until the final buzzer.

“We joined the Partners Cup for us to get the experience and most importantly, to learn to play with each other. I hope we can achieve that,” said Rasmo, who shared that only four players remain from the lineup last year.

“Most of our players are from our grassroots program. They are from our Passerelle lineup,” he said.

Rasmo said the goal of the team is to reach the Final Four come the regular season.

“We are going to take one step at a time. Our goal is to get to the top four and we’ll see what’s going to happen from there,” he said.

Casinillo and Narbasa have combined for 26 points for the SHS-AdC, which improved to a 2-1 (win-loss) record after losing to the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers in their first game.