THE University of San Carlos Warriors moved a win away from clinching their first-ever Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) college basketball title after beating the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, 87-76, in Game 3 to lead the best-of-5 championship series 2-1 at the Cebu Coliseum last night.
UV failed to find any answer to Shooster Olago, especially in the final six minutes of the game when Steve Cedrick Akomo fouled out.
What caused the Lancers’ fall was their inability to move the ball around and their impatience in offense. Their failure to challenge USC’s shots in the final quarter also did them in.
They were ahead by as much as nine points in the second quarter when suddenly the tide turned in the third quarter and USC got the momentum for the rest of the game.
June Kent Manzo was on fire for UV in the second quarter and heped overturn a 21-13 USC lead with an 18-2 run. The Lancers led by nine thrice, 34-25, 36-27 and 38-29 in that second quarter rally.
UV also managed to contain Olago and USC turned to Ian Tagapan for the points to cut down the lead to 42-38 at halftime.
The Lancers, however, disappeared quickly as Olago and Charles Pepito started an 8-0 run that turned the tide around for good.
While UV got too dependent on Manzo, Olago and Tagapan continued to strike for the Warriors, who went to lead by 13 points after Olago scored five quick points at the start of the final period.
Coach Gary Cortes was forced to send back Akomo, who committed his fourth foul in the final 5.7 seconds of the third period, in order to stop the bleeding but it proved futile as Akomo committed his final foul with 6:10 left, giving Olago an open field in the shaded area.
UV’s final push was a 6-0 blitz that was capped by Franz Arong’s triple, but Gio Laguyo’s lay-up at the final 2:01 of the game killed all hopes of the Lancers to steal the game.
“We stuck to our game plans. As what I had said, we need to play 40 minutes of mental toughness. I told them to focus and go back to our game plan when we were struck hard in the second period. We focused on defense and we played as one team,” USC head coach Britt Reroma told Sun.Star Cebu.
Olago, who was limited to just five points in the first half, broke loose in the second half, scoring 10 in the third and 17 in the fourth for the game high 32 points. He made 9 of 21 shots and was 14 of 16 from the free throw line. He also had 15 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block for USC, while Tagapan contributed 20 points and Charles Pepito had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Manzo, who was limited to just four points in the second half, led UV with 25 points, and Arvie Cabañero added 11 while Akomo finished with only nine points and 11 rebounds.