Freeman Cebu Sports

It’s UV vs SHS-AdC, USC vs DBTCI in the Batang PBA semis

Rico S. Navarro - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - After five days of intense and close games, the University of the Visayas, University of San Carlos, Don Bosco Technical College Institute and Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu qualified for the semifinals of the CloudFone Batang PBA Cebu Championships. On a day that they all had to win, Don Bosco survived a gritty Abellana National School side, 74-71, while USC dodged another bullet in nipping USPF, 81-79.

Meanwhile, already assured of the top seeding, UV cruised to a 65-47 win over SHS-Ateneo de Cebu.

Don Bosco learned the hard way that it isn’t over ‘til it’s over against the tough Abellana side. After taking a 58-46 lead going into the fourth quarter, Don Bosco somehow forgot that Abellana does fight back when their backs are against the wall. True enough, Abellana used the fourth quarter to rally, cutting the lead to just one, 69-68 with 2:25 left in the game. Abellana had the chance to take the lead but Arnel Salado missed two free throws with 2:06 left, before Imran Escobido and Christian Boyboy both scored for a 73-68 USC lead.

 But Breidyn Smith replied with a booming triple to slice the lead to 73-71, 9 seconds left. And after Boyboy missed two free throws with seven ticks left, Abellana had one last chance to tie the game or win it outright; but Smith lost the ball against the USC defense as he crossed the half-court line. Boyboy led Don Bosco with 19. Smith led ANS with 23.

USC also saw themselves in the same boat as Don Bosco as it withstood a furious USPF rally to score the win. After taking a 62-54 lead at the end of the third quarter, USC relaxed and allowed USPF back into the ballgame. USPF slowly but surely chipped away at the lead, tying the game at 68-all with 3:10 left. The game was tied twice more at 70-all and 72-all before USC took a 79-75 lead with 54 seconds left.

 After an exchange of baskets saw USC on top, 81-77, Liobert Baquiro scored to cut the lead to 81-79, and was fouled for three point play opportunity with 10 seconds left. After missing the bonus free throw, USPF got the ball back after a USC player lost the ball at the baseline. USPF then missed two successive attempts, one from outside and another inside to hand USC a close and thrilling win. Genald Inigo led USC with 25 as Steven Mendoza scored 17. Outside sniper Christopher Isabelo had five triples and a total of 20 points for USPF.

The last game saw UV cruise to its fifth straight win. UV jumped to a 37-23 halftime lead then slowed down, allowing SHS-Ateneo to catch up at 48-43, end of the third quarter. The UV defense then limited SHS-Ateneo to only four points in the fourth quarter for the win.

 Royce Alforque led UV with 15 as Coco Tuadles towed SHS-Ateneo with 20. UV plays SHS-Ateneo in today’s knock-out semifinals at 9:45am while USC plays Don Bosco at 8:30 a.m. The winners face off tomorrow for the championship. (FREEMAN)

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