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Baby Lancers go for jugular; Magis Eagles fight for life

CEBU, Philippines — More determined than ever to end their six-year title drought, the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers will go all-out for the jugular but they must brace for one big fight against four-time champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles in Game 2 of the best-of-three juniors division finals in the 17th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) men's basketball tournament today at the Cebu Coliseum.

The Baby Lancers won the series opener last Tuesday, 69-59, to move on the brink of clinching their first title in six years.

In doing so, they also came close to bringing down the dynasty established by the Magis Eagles who dominated the league with authority since 2011.

For the  Baby Lancers, it's not over until it's over.

While they have a far greater mission to accomplish, the Baby Lancers expect the Magis Eagles to give their best shot as they try to extend the series into its full route.

But Baby Lancers assistant coach Gerald Ylaya said they will prepare hard and be ready for whatever the Magis Eagles bring to the table.

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"We expect the Magis Eagles to be the champions that they are and come back stronger," said Ylaya, himself a back-to-back champion with the Baby Lancers in 1997-1998 where he also swept the MVP awards.

"For that, the Baby Lancers intend to put up an even higher fence around the scorers in defense. We should minimize our turnovers and fouls. Most importantly, we must rely on the strength of the team and not just one person," he added.

The team effort of the Baby Lancers was evident in Game 1 where they found several heroes in Beirn Anthony Laurente, Jim Paul Amistoso, Joshua Yerro and Jhiey Paraldo.

Just when the Magis Eagles came threateningly close at 49-50, Laurente and Amistoso rifled 12 straight points to give the Baby Lancers a 62-54 breather with 3:37 left to play.

Yerro and Paraldo then delivered the knocking blows on the Magis Eagles with a seven-point swing that sealed the deal for the Baby Lancers, 59-47, in the closing seconds.

Learning well from their lessons of the past, the Baby Lancers have no intention of lowering their guards down and will battle it out with the Magis Eagles with an even greater resolve.

"The Baby Lancers have sat on this boat before and we learned our lessons well. It ain't over till it's over. We will put relentless pressure on them from start to finish. We will push harder, capitalize on our momentum and charge even stronger," said Ylaya.

"We learned to respect our opponents this way. It is not only because we want to win but also because we owe it to each other, to the management, the entire coaching staff, to our family and supporters. We want to play a great game for CESAFI."

On his end, Magis Eagles coach Rommel Rasmo humbly admitted that they lost to a better team and that they will just do their best to recover and hopefully live and fight for another day.   

"I have to give credit to UV. They had better intensity and hustle. They played their hearts out for 40 minutes. We need to match that for us to have a chance at extending the series," said Rasmo. (FREEMAN)

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