THE University of San Carlos Warriors survived an end-game scare to extend its winning streak to seven games following a 69-66 thriller win over the defending champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers in the 2014 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) College Basketball tournament held in the Cebu Coliseum last Monday night.
Last night, the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles secured the automatic slot to the semifinal round following a one-sided 91-59 win over the University of San Jose-Recoletos Baby Jaguars in the high school competition.
With the defending champions giving the Warriors a tough game, coach Junthy Valenzuela had to dig deeper into his line-up to come up with the best supporting cast on Shooster Olago who has again worked wonders for USC after a scoring slump in the previous game.
The contest was evenly fought in the first quarter, but UV got the momentum in the second with rookie guard June Kent Manzo III and Nigerian import Jeffakins Aguara scoring six and four points, respectively, to help the Lancers take a 29-24 lead at the bend.
But things quickly turned around in the third period when the Warriors mounted an attack, which caught the Lancers flat-footed.
Olago was the center of USC’s offense as the 6’9” Cameroonian center scored nine points in the third period, which helped the Warriors regain the lead and hold a 45-39 lead entering the final period.
Then the Lancers got their own barrage of points and behind its torrid three-point shooting, UV managed to take back the lead, 66-65, after Frans Arong scored a lay-up off a quick steal at the final 45.6 seconds of the game.
But UV could not sustain its momentum and Olago wrapped the game with four straight free throws to give USC its seventh win in eight games.
UV was hounded with foul troubles that eventually saw Jean-Marie Mpouma, Raffy Octobre and Jan Monic Soliva fouling out at the 5:04, 2:06 and 41.2 seconds of the final period.
Olago scored the game high 20 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, dished out two assists and pulled two steals, Ian Jefferson Tagapan had his first break out game finishing with 12 points and Charles Pepito added 11 points for USC while Aguara topscored UV with 17 points, Arong added 13 and Octobre finished with 10 points who now dropped to 4-5.
The Magis Eagles, meanwhile, had a fluid start and never looked back to stay unbeaten in all of its elimination round games to tab the automatic semifinals seat.
Despite playing without his reliable power-forward Zacky Huang who was recuperating from an ankle sprain, coach Rommel Rasmo had all of his 14 players scoring at least two points with Joshua Sinclair leading the way with 16 points, Anton Niño Araw-Araw added 14 points and Jose Piero Dominic Longa contributing with 10 points for the Magis Eagles while Mar-Mar Rubas scored 21 points, Bryan Divingracia added 17 and Richmon Lapinid finished with 11 points as the Baby Jaguars dropped to 1-5.