THE University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers moved a win away from sweeping the first round of eliminations of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) collegiate basketball competition, following an 80-77 win over the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Friday night at the Cebu Coliseum.

The nine-time champions are undefeated in six games, while the Jaguars are winless in five outings—the team’s worst in the history of its basketball program.

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At the start, UV did not take the Jaguars seriously as they played with less intensity and tenacity. But the defending champions pulled through with brilliant plays when they were needed the most.

The Jaguars were determined to get out of the slump and behind the efforts of Gian Carlo Albarillo, Aniceto Lapiz Jr., Abulaiz Suliman and Kurt Amores tried to overturn a 24-17 UV lead.

USJ-R did not allow the Lancers to pull away as they managed to trade baskets with the favored opponents. Back-to-back triples from Lapiz and Suliman gave the Jaguars the temporary lead, 55-54, with four minutes left to play in the third period.

It was at this moment, when UV start to play seriously. Behind the leadership of Edrian Lao, the Lancers pulled a telling 10-2 run to end the third quarter with a 64-57 lead.

As UV mellowed again, Clint Muñez and Lapiz moved USJ-R to 64-63 before UV scored six unanswered points.

While USJ-R started to gather momentum down the stretch, UV started to commit costly mistakes but thanks to a long jumper from Ralf Olivares, UV managed to gain a slim breathing room in the final 64 seconds.

USJ-R got the chance to send the game to overtime after Phil Mercader split his charities, with UV holding on to an 80-77 lead with 9.3 seconds remaining.

But Renato Abing missed an open three-point attempt and Olivares blocked Albarillo’s trey as time expired to seal UV’s sixth win.

Despite a half-hearted performance, UV shot an awesome 65 percent from the field (31-of-48) while USJ-R made only 43 percent of its shots (28-of-65).

UV outrebounded USJ-R, 28-22, but committed 20 turnovers against only nine of the Jaguars.

Lao led the UV scorers with 12 points, Mercader finished with 11, while Rene Jun Saycon and Jerome Silva each scored 10 points.

Amores scored the game-high 17 points, while Albarillo added 15. Suliman and Lapiz combined for 24 points for USJ-R.