THE Southwestern University Cobras showed they are the hungrier team as they drew first blood against the University of San Carlos Warriors, 59-55, in Game 1 of the best-of-5 championship series for the 2014 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) College Basketball title last night in the Cebu Coliseum.
With barely 21 hours to go before Game 2, USC needs to quickly address the things that killed them in Game 1—poor spacing especially on fast break, lack of outside shooting, disorganized offense and the minor injuries of its key players.
Game 2 will be played at 6:45 p.m. tonight following the ongoing Philippine Collegiate Champions League Vis-Min elimination between the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars and the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos Rams of Bacolod City at 5:15 p.m.
UNO-R, the Visayas champions defeated the Mindanao titlists Holy Trinity College Wildcats of General Santos City, 75-69, yesterday.
USC was fluid in the first quarter, holding the Cobras at bay while dominating the battle of the boards to establish a four-point lead 12-8 at the end of the first 10 minutes.
However, inexperience started to set in for the Warriors as the pressure defense of the Cobras forced them to commit 13 turnovers, which the Cobras converted to 12 points.
The second quarter also saw the break out game of Giovanni Luz who scored 10 points, including three straight triples, that helped the Cobras outscore USC 21-11 for a 29-23 lead at the half.
The scoring woes continued to hound the Warriors, while Cobras had a 14-5 blast that gave SWU a 43-28 lead at the 4:20 mark of the third period.
USC bounced back by scoring eight points and closed the penultimate period trailing 45-36.
The Warriors gave SWU some scare and cut the lead to four points, 50-46 but the lack of an outside scorer and a go-to-guy on offense hampered USC.
Adding to USC’s woes was the unexpected minor injuries of USC’s vital cogs. Rookie guard Gio Laguyo, who played a major part in the team’s rotation, had a cramps trying to stop Mark Tallo on offense, while Christian Laude and Charles Pepito also suffered leg injuries.
USC dominated the rebounds 45-32 but SWU clearly got the edge in assists department setting up 13 shots against four of USC.
The outside shooting also poised a major problem for coach Junthy Valenzuela as the Cobras sank five triples against only one for the Warriors.
Luz topscored for SWU with 15 points while grabbing four rebounds, three assists and three steal. Landry Sanjo added 13 points and Tallo contributed 10 points on top of nine rebounds, five assists and a steal.
Shooster Olago scored 16 points for USC, while Pepito had nine points.
SWU (59) – Luz 15, Sanjo 13, Tallo 10, Bregondo 8, Parker 4, Valdor 4, Holper 3, Goloran 2. USC (55) – Olago 16, Pepito 9, Rabat 7, Laude 5, Bensig 4, Lim 4, Toyambi 5, Tagapan 3, Laguyo 3, Asuncion 2. Quarterscores: 8-12; 29-23; 45-36; 59-58.