THE Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles got off on the wrong foot and suffered the consequences as they yielded their first game of the season, 57-60, to the hungry Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildkittens at the start of the second part of the double-round robin semifinal round of the 2014 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) High School Basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
The loss was SHS-AdC’s first after 12 games while stalling their outright entry to the championship round while the victory gave hope for the erstwhile winless Wildkittens.
The semis standings now has the Eagles still on top with 3-1 win-loss card, the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers, who will play with the University of Southern Philippines Foundation Baby Panthers (1-2) tomorrow is trailing with a 2-1 card as CIT-
U improved to 1-3.
SHS-AdC needed just one victory to make its fourth straight finals appearance, while CIT-U needs to win all of its remaining games to get a ray of hope of making it to the finals since 2009.
However, they might be doing it without their ace player, Justin Jules Langres, who hyper-extended his shooting arm in the third period in an effort to save a loss ball.
His sacrifice was nearly put to waste when the Wildkittens allowed the Eagles to bounce back in the final period.
But thanks to the steady hands and nerve of steel of Edgardo Henry Acop III who calmly sank two pressure-packed free throws in the final 6.8 seconds that extended CIT-U’s lead to 60-57.
Three-point-one seconds earlier, Zacky Huang gave a glimpse of hope to the Eagles when he scored an undergoal stab that put SHS-AdC within 57-59.
In an effort to stop the clock and earn one more possession, SHS-AdC fouled and sent Acop to the free throw line. But the CIT-U guard was up for the challenge as he sank the two important foul shots.
In desperation, SHS-AdC brought the ball up court quickly but the Wildkittens were quicker to set up defense and Acop finished his job by stripping Jan-Jan Jaboneta the leather as time expired.
CIT-U however, nearly wasted a 23 point lead, 48-25, before coming up with end game brilliance to preserve the lead.
Defense was the key as the Wildkittens clipped the wings of the Eagles.
CIT-U proved to be worthy in the semis as it held SHS-AdC to just three points in the first quarter and continued to play tough defense in the next two quarters to take control of the game.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, nobody stepped up until Zacky Huang gave life to the top seeds by scoring six points of the team’s 11 points in the third period.
However, Huang’s effort was overshadowed by the high-octane games of Joshua Philipp Manatad and Langres who scored six points each of CIT-U’s 20 points production also in the third that gave the Wildcats its biggest lead.
Huang then led SHS-AdC’s coup de grace by scoring 10 points while Joshua Sinclair and Jaboneta added with eight points each but CIT-U hung tough before Acop sealed the game with brilliant end game performance.