WITH blood on their uniforms and patches on their faces, the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles paid those all no mind as they gutted it out and pulled off a 58-55 win over the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers in Game Three to win the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Season 23 high school basketball title on Friday night, December 15, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.
The championship was Ateneo de Cebu’s third in a row and a fitting finale in the final Cesafi game of Jared Bahay’s storied high school career. Bahay led the Magis Eagles with 14 points and 11 rebounds, with three steals and a block.
The Magis Eagles got off to a sizzling start. They led by as much as 19, 27-8, early in the second before the Baby Lancers fought their way back to take a 45-43 lead after back-to-back triples from guard Kenneth Cole.
UV stayed in front, 49-46, after two made free-throws by John dela Torre, but the Magis Eagles had one last run in them. RJ Dacalos scored inside to trim the deficit to one before Jared Bahay canned a long triple to shove the Ateneo de Cebu in front, 51-49, with 2:36 to go in the rubber match.
Magis Eagles forward Jelo Rota, who was sidelined for a bit following an unsportsmanlike foul committed on him by UV’s Benedict Paca in the third, then converted a layup off a craft pass by Dacalos to push their lead to four. Moments later, Nikolas Yu swished in a corner triple for a 56-49 Magis Eagles lead with time down to 1:31.
UV was not done yet as two made free-throws by dela Torre pulled them to within five. However, Froilan Maglasang came up with a huge steal and a bucket to raise Ateneo de Cebu’s lead to seven, 56-49, with 1:17 to go in the game. Unfortunately for the Magis Eagles, Maglasang got overzealous after making the shot and was called for a technical foul for staring down Cole.
Dela Torre made the technical free-throw to keep UV within striking distance. A few seconds later, the Baby Lancers had numerous clean looks at three-pointers but missed them all, and the Magis Eagles grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball upcourt.
However, a backcourt violation by Maglasang left the door ajar for the Baby Lancers, and dela Torre took advantage, sinking a three-pointer, to pull his team to within three, 55-58, with 6.6 ticks on the clock.
Yu was then fouled on the Magis Eagles’ next possession to send him to the free-throw line with only 2.7 seconds left. Yu missed both, UV grabbed the board but Rodolfo Cambarijan’s hail mary shot missed to give Ateneo de Cebu the win and the title.
Maglasang, Bahay’s trusty backcourt mate, added 11 markers, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals for Ateneo de Cebu.
Rota had nine points and eight boards, while Dacalos chipped in eight and 10 rebounds.
Dela Torre led UV with 15 points, while Cambarijan had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.