THE University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers lived to fight for another day as they finally snapped an eight-game losing streak to the defending champions Southwestern University Cobras that dates back to last year.
The Lancers extended the series to Game 4 after an 89-82 win in double overtime in Game 3 of the best-of-five 2013 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) college basketball finals series at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
The Lancers have finally exorcised the ghost that has been hounding them since they lost Game 4, 68-64, on Oct. 3 last year in the championship series that was won by the Cobras.
As usual, UV struggled anew and was trailing by 13 points, 39-26 in the second and by 11, 62-51 halfway to the regulation period but the former champion got its act together in the final four minutes.
But before UV gained the momentum, the Lancers went through two unsportsmanlike fouls, an ejection of Mico Marquez and again, bad free throw shooting.
UV’s break started when SWU’s workhorse Landry Sanjo fouled out when the Cobras were just 4:42 away from sweeping the series.
SWU was forced to play with an all-local squad as coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba seemed apprehensive to field the 6’11” Fabrice Seiwe, whose 275-pound frame seemed more of a liability than an asset.
Without a stopper, Mike Harry Nzeusseu dominated the middle as he rallied UV to a 10-0 run that put the Lancers behind 62-61 with 2:49 left in regulation.
Adams Mohammed gave SWU a little elbow room as he broke the Cobras’ two minutes and 23 seconds of silence with a triple.
John Abad regained the lead for UV with a triple, 68-65 at the 15.7-second mark of the fourth quarter but Monbert Arong answered with his own triple nine seconds later to send the game into the first overtime as Abad missed a floater at the other end.
After a brief resistance by the Cobras in the first overtime, UV seemed poised to seal the game after Alfred Codilla gave the Lancers a 77-74 lead at the 36.5-second mark.
But Arong evened the game once more with a triple 21 seconds later to send the game to a second overtime.
The fouls, however, took their toll on the Cobras in the second overtime as Daryl Goloran and Arong fouled out, while the Lancers finally made their free throws and secured the rebounds including a few crucial offensive rebounds to finally beat SWU.
After shooting 14 of 31 from the free throw line in the regulation period, UV finished a total of 23 of 44 when they sank 9 of 13 charity shots in two extra periods. In contrast, SWU shot a poor 13 of 28 from the line.
“I just told the players, ‘in a battle we fight until our last breath.’ We kept our hope and got the opportunity as we focused on our game plan. We went to Wowie (Escosio) and held our defense on (Mark) Tallo,” UV coach Felix Belano told reporters after the game.
Belano’s gamble in using the seldom-used Leonard Santillan paid off as the rookie swingman provided not only quality minutes but also 10 points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals.
However, it was the shifty Nzeusseu who kept the hopes alive for the Lancers as he scored the game-high 26 points on top of 11 rebounds. Abad was back to his usual self and added 20 points and Escosio finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, two assists
and two steals for UV.
Sanjo topscored for SWU with 23 points, Arong added 16, Bernie Bregondo made 13 and Goloran finished with 10.
What was missing from SWU was Tallo, who was awarded the season MVP before the game. Tallo scored only six points.
Meanwhile, the University of San Carlos Warriors lost a 22-point lead before winning the third place trophy after surviving a 74-71 victory over the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars.