THE Nippon Sports Science University Lions of Japan proved steadier and more relentless as they logged the first-ever win of the Asia Pacific University Games (Apug) Basketball tournament, 90-83, over the University of Cebu Webmasters at the Cebu Coliseum yesterday.
The three-nation competition participated by teams from the Philippines, Japan and Malaysia will also hold its table tennis competition this morning at the Cebu Provincial Capitol Social Hall, while the other event, the badminton tournament, will start on Sunday at the Metrosports Badminton Courts in Salinas Drive, Lahug.
Sekido Yusuke was unstoppable as he led the early breakout of NSSU that gave them early control of the ball game. Yusuke was then joined by Oshiro Yusaku, who helped the Lions build a 22-15 lead after the first quarter.
UC rallied behind the efforts of Garciano Puerto Jr. and Geleant Delator, who countered with a 9-5 blast to get closer, 27-24, at the 7:30 mark of the second period.
But the efficiency of the Lions in transition, post-up and outside shooting gave them enough leverage to withstand the efforts of the Webmasters, who were clearly still struggling to find their form two months after their campaign in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) tournament.
NSSU continued to take control of the game even if the second unit of coach Fujita Masahiro was utilized in the entire third quarter.
Behind the blazing guns of Yanagimoto Masayuk, Sasaki Ryoya and Matsuda Yuma, NSSU built its biggest lead at 15 points, 63-48. But UC did not lose their spirit as the boys of Kenneth Kern fought back behind John Jabello and Puerto to pull within three points, 68-65, after a 17-5 run.
That was the closest the Webmasters could get as Yusuke Odagiri Tadashi and Masayuk ignited the offense of the Lions to make it a double-digit lead, 89-79, with 37.1 seconds left in the game to score the first win of the tournament.
Yusuke top-scored for the Lions with 18 points, Ebata Kosuke finished with 17, Yusaku had 14, and Tadashi finished with 12. Jabello led all scorers with 21 points, Puerto finished with 18 markers and Delator scattered 16 points for the host school UC.
The action will shift today to the University of Southern Philippines Foundation gym in Salinas Drive with UC, University of San Carlos Warriors and the USPF Panthers playing double-header matches.
UC will take on the Cesafi 2015 champions USC Warriors at 8 a.m., USPF will face NSSU at 9:30 a.m. before UC again sees action against the Universiti Teknologi Mara of Malaysia at 2 p.m . USPF will play USC in the main game at 3:30 p.m.