THE Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles wasted a 24-point lead, then parried the blows of the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers with excellent plays in the final minutes to win the deciding Game 3, 72-66, and the best-of-3 finals series of the 2014 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) High School Division Basketball title yesterday at the Cebu Coliseum.

The victory was SHS-AdC’s second title in four finals appearances and its second over UV in three championship meetings.

Just like in the previous games, SHS-AdC played tough defense while the listless Baby Lancers slowly crumbled to pieces, with their key players in foul trouble and suffering minor injuries in the final quarter.

“We played tough defense and stayed focused in the entire game. We did not allow the physicality of the game to affect us. That was why when I had a player who was warned for unsportsmanlike behavior, or was banged up by UV’s defense, I immediately pulled him out to give him time to cool down,” SHS-AdC head coach Rommel Rasmo told Sun.Star Cebu after the game.

UV lost one key player, Dominic Jan Morre, who was slapped with two unsportsmanlike fouls in the 3:19 mark of the first quarter. It happened at the height of the Magis Eagles’ blazing start that gave them a 26-7 lead after the opening quarter.

With Morre out, coach Delfin Pepito had to stretch the playing time of his starting center Samuel Schaub, who later fouled out in the game with 9:10 left.

With their big men’s minutes stretched, UV had to sparingly use Arkins Loreto, Dove Jones Verano, Ramish Alforque and Marvin Rey Oche to give their starters extra minutes of rest.

Unfortunately, nobody gave the Baby Lancers the needed support. Instead, they added more woes to the campaign as they either committed fouls or became a liability in defense.

“Hats off to my players. They did everything to win this championship. I told them to play with their God-given gift and they showed they are rightful to win this title. They stayed together and played together until the final buzzer,” said Rasmo.

SHS-AdC, however, wasted a 24-point lead, 54-30 at the 3:00 mark of the third period, when UV started to regain their footing in the fourth period.

UV closed the third period by outscoring SHS-AdC, 10-3, and continued to challenge the defense of the Magis Eagles until they were within three points, 67-64, in the final 1:38 of the fourth quarter.

However, UV wasted two fast break attempts and Joshua Sinclair and Jan-Jan Jaboneta made sure the Baby Lancers could not get more momentum as they scored important points on the other end.

Jaboneta, who was named High School MVP, had a double-double performance, scoring 16 points on top of 12 rebounds. He also had four assists, two steals and one block, while rookie Joshua Sinclair, who was named in the Mythical 5, had a game-high 27 points to go with 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Aside from Jaboneta and Sinclair, Jose Piero Longa played his best game this season as he scored 18 points, including five triples.

UV was led by Orlan Wamar, who scored 21 points. JC Escalona added 20 and Raul Jancork Cabahug added 15 points.

“This is a well-played championship. Both teams played their best, making this series a very exciting one. Congratulations to the Sacred Heart-Ateneo Magis Eagles,” Commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said after awarding the trophies to the winners.

Aside from Jaboneta and Sinclair, John Bryle Bahio of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation Baby Panthers and Escalona and Joshua Flores of UV were named into the Mythical 5 Team. RCM