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Webmasters stun Lancers in opener

CEBU, Philippines — The University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters built an early 15-point lead, then held on their ground against a tough endgame challenge  by the defending champion University of the Visayas (UV) Lancers to pull off a dramatic 85-77 win and move one step away from clinching the collegiate division championship of the 17th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) men's basketball tournament last night at the Cebu Coliseum.

In another monster performance, 6-foot-8 Cameroonian import Frederick Elombi dished out 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and as many blocks for the Webmasters, who could end UV's reign and at the same time end their six-year title drought in Game 2 scheduled this Friday.

Aside from Elombi, the Webmasters also drew huge games from John Calvin Jabello and Joven Tagudin as they marched closer towards completing their fairytale run this season.

Jabello sparkled with 16 points on top of five assists, four rebounds and two steals, while Tagudin had 14 markers spiked with six boards for the Webmasters, who got off to a quick 6-2 start.

After the Lancers tied the count at 6-all, UC scored seven straight points to spark an 18-9 run that gave them a 24-15 edge with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Lancers crawled to within four, 20-24, on a triple by Jan Monic Soliva but the Webmasters dropped an 11-0 bomb to establish a 35-20 advantage.

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During that scorching run,  they seemingly handcuffed the Lancers for five minutes. UV  did not score until Jerome Napao's free throw with 4:40 remaining in the second period.

The Lancers struggled hard to stage a comeback but they just couldn't their target, enabling the Webmasters to preserve a double-digit lead, 45-33, entering the locker room.

The Webmasters were still ahead comfortably,  61-48, when they suddenly wilted under a renewed challenge by the Lancers, who launched a fluid 11-0 burst to pull within 59-61 with still 7:49 to go in the game.

The Lancers further threatened at 67-68 but Elombi and Jabello banked tough layups in succession before Garex Puerto hit a put-back off a miss by Justin Dacalos to give the Webmasters some breathing space, 74-69, at the final  2:52 mark.

The Lancers could only inch closer to 71-74 as the Webmasters delivered a vicious 7-0 punch to knock down UV, 81-71 with only 56 seconds left to play.

Jerome Napao had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Rey Suerte, Jayson Balabag and Tristan Albina conspired for 33 points in a losing effort for the stunned Lancers. (FREEMAN)

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