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Best start ever for USC

Victor Rabat of USC goes up strong into the hoop during their CESAFI collegiate basketball match against UC last night at the Cebu Coliseum. PAUL JUN E. ROSAROSO

Warriors now 4-0; UV hands SHS-Ateneo first loss

CEBU, Philippines – The Warriors squandered a 12-point lead early in the third period and trailed for most the final half but turned to heroics of John Reel Saycon, whose leaning buzzer-beater sent the game into overtime with a 58-all count at the end of the regulation period.

John Calvin Jabello opened the extra five-minute frame with four straight points but that proved to be the Webmasters' last hurrah as Lucky Ecarma drilled in a crisp trey to spark a 9-0 blitz  that sealed the deal for the Warriors.

Ecarma finished with 13 points alongside Kent Cabanog while Victor Rabat chipped in with 10 markers as the Warriors reclaimed the solo leadership in the collegiate division.

6-foot-8 Cameroonian import Frederick Ngoh Elombi torched 17 points but missed four straight crucial free throws in the extension that could have turned the tide for the Webmasters.

Jabello had 15 points and Justine Dacalos scored 11 but to no avail as the Webmasters sustained back-to-back loses since their season-opening 59-49 conquest of the Southwestern University-Phinma (SWU) Cobras last August 5.

Earlier,  the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers wasted away an 18-point lead but fought steadier down the stretch to overwhelm the previously undefeated four-time champion Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles,  61-58.

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Biern Anthony Laurente chalked up 14 points and Justin Jake Rosete added 10 markers as the Baby Lancers earned a share of juniors division lead with the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Baby Jaguars, who also coasted to a 3-0 start after mauling the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Baby Panthers, 84-64.

The Magis Eagles hit the game's first basket but could only score four thereafter while the Baby Lancers racked up 18 points at will to take a dozen-point edge  after the first period.

The Baby Lancers kept stepping on the offensive plate to establish an imposing 36-18 bulge with only a few seconds gone by in the third period.

It was the biggest deficit ever suffered by the Magis Eagles since they started to build an empire with a historic title in 2012.

But playing with the heart of champions they have been in the past five years, the Magis Eagles staged a courageous fightback anchored on Christian Manaytay, Patrick Yu and Jed Colonia to trim the deficit down to  four, 46-50, with still seven minutes to go in the game.

Gabriel Cometa, however, quickly restored order for the Baby Lancers with five quick points in a 9-4 run as they regained a 59-50 advantage at the final 4:50 mark.

The Magis Eagles threatened for the last time at 58-61 on Yu's shot with 28 seconds remaining.

After missed attempts by Rosete and Robert Intrampas with the gameclock winding down, the Magis Eagles had one last chance to send the game into overtime but Colonia missed a desperate long 3-pointer that just bounced off the rim at the final buzzer.

Manaytay finished with 14 points while P. Yu and Colonia each scored 11 in a losing end as the Magis Eagles tasted their first setback after sweeping their first three assignments. (FREEMAN)

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