THE players of the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers banked on their pesky defense and the offensive explosion of Rodolfo Cambarijan to defeat the reigning champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles in Game One, 62-54, of the best-of-three finals on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023 at the Cebu Coliseum.
UV will try to complete the sweep and capture their first Cesafi high school title since 2017 in Game Two on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the same venue.
Baby Lancers coach Ronald Bucao isn’t allowing his wards to let their guard down against a savvy team like the Magis Eagles.
“I just told the boys na we are not yet done. We still have a lot of work to do especially since we’re up against Ateneo,” shared the former Green Lancer great who has transitioned into a successful coaching career.
With the Baby Lancers needing just one more victory, Bucao added that they must not relax and waste the opportunity to become champions once again.
“We can’t take our foot off the pedal and waste this opportunity. We can end this Wednesday,” Bucao added.
Cambarijan Jr. had 23 points, seven rebounds, an assist, four steals and a block, while Isidro Culdora added 12 markers, 14 rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocks for UV.
UV was up by just two, 44-42, when the team began to pull away, thanks to a 9-2 run that featured free-throws and a layup from Culdora, a booming triple from John dela Torre, and a bucket by Cambarijan that gave them a 53-44 lead with 4:55 left.
Ateneo de Cebu got some momentum after back-to-back three-pointers from ace guard Jared Bahay that trimmed the deficit to three, 50-53, time down to 3:22. But UV had the answers, as Culdora sank a midrange jumper from the free-throw stripe while Cambarijan gathered the loose ball and drained a trifecta from the right wing for a 58-50 UV lead.
Moments later, Cambarijan drove hard to the rack and converted a difficult layup to give the Baby Lancers a 60-50 lead with 1:41 remaining.
Nobody scored in double-figures for Ateneo de Cebu, with ace guard Jared Bahay scoring just nine, all from beyond the arc. The top-ranked guard in the entire country continued his string of awful shooting performances in the postseason, this time missing 11 of his 14 attempts. He did, however, have seven rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block.
UV’s defense was phenomenal, as the team’s physicality and relentlessness held Ateneo de Cebu to just 28.6 percent shooting for the night.