UV defeats Ateneo de Cebu in Game 1, closes in on Cesafi Season 23 high school championship

UV upended 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.
UNSTOPPABLE. Rodolfo Cambarijan scored 23 points to lead the UV Baby Lancers to its Game One win.
UNSTOPPABLE. Rodolfo Cambarijan scored 23 points to lead the UV Baby Lancers to its Game One win.REYNAN OPADA

The University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers is now just a win away from capturing the high school basketball championship in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Season 23. UV upended the reigning champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (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.

High-energy forward Roderick Cambarijan Jr. and crafty lefty Ismael Kim Culdora hit the big shots in the fourth to put the Baby Lancers in front for good and stave off every single comeback attempt by the Magis Eagles.

Cambarijan Jr. had 23 points, seven rebounds, an assist, four steals and a block, while Culdora added 12 markers, 14 rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocks for UV, who seeks to win its first Cesafi high school crown since 2017.

UV was up by just two, 44-42, when they 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 going 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. Ateneo de Cebu kept at it and pulled to within six, 54-60, after a triple by Rodolfo Maglasang. But Cambarijan retaliated with another layup to stop the Magis Eagles dead in their tracks.

UV will try to bring home the high school crown in Game Two on Wednesday.

Nobody scored in double-figures for Ateneo de Cebu, with 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 players’ physicality and relentlessness held Ateneo de Cebu to just 28.6 percent shooting for the night. UV showed its mettle in the first half as it opened the game with an 18-11 lead after the first.

Ateneo de Cebu came alive in the second and took the driver’s seat at 29-27 after a short jumper by Lars Fjellvang. However, a bucker by Vincent Aying and a steal and reverse layup by Kent Castro shoved the Baby Lancers in front, 32-29, at halftime.

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