Lancers keep four-peat dreams alive in CESAFI
Emmanuel B. Villaruel (The Freeman) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  All-Star Center Ted Saga calmly sank a pair of crucial free throws in the final 3.1 seconds of the contest to power the three-time defending champions University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers to a dramatic 76-75 victory over the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters in the 19th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Cebu Coliseum.

For exacting vengeance at their twice-to-beat rivals who swept them in the double round elimination, the Lancers proceeded into the seniors division finals for the fifth consecutive time under the tutelage of coach Gary Cortes.

The road wasn’t easy though for the Lancers as they have to overhaul a 12-point deficit in the third quarter then quelled a spirited endgame resistance by the Webmasters before keeping their four-peat dreams alive.

Down 38-50 late in the third stanza, the Lancers staged a daring fightback and used a 15-2 blitz to turn a 59-67 deficit into a 74-69 advantage at the final 2:12 mark.

John Calvin Jabello and Paul Galinato, however, drilled back-to-back triples to push UC on top again by a hairline, 75-74, with only 19 ticks left in the gameclock.

In the ensuing sequence, UV’star rookie Gabriel Cometa missed his running jumper but the Lancers plucked the offensive rebound.

In an attempt to buy time, UC quickly fouled Jancork Cabahug who subsequently limped out of the playing court with leg cramps. In Cabahug stead, Saga went to the foul line, then cooly dropped his gift shot to the delight of the Lancers and their throng of fans.

The Webmasters still had a chance to steal the win but Rodel Gravera botched his medium-range jumper as the time expired.

Lass Coulibaly dropped 10 of his 17 points in the second quarter, Cabahug finished with 12 points while Cometa and Monic Soliva conspired for 21 markers for the Lancers, who will take on the Southwestern University (SWU)-Phinma Cobras in the best-of-three championship series starting on Monday, November 18.

Earlier, Eldiebrando Sevillejo  and Kenvon Pondoc conspired for 37 points as the UC Baby Webmasters terminated the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Baby Panthers, 81-56, to barge into the juniors division championship for the fourth consecutive time.

The Baby Webmasters of coach Brad Samonte detonated a devastating 20-0 bomb bridging the first and second quarters to establish their largest lead at 25 points, 34-9, with 5:50 into halftime.

The Baby Panthers couldn’t get any closer than nine points, the last was at 44-53 as the Baby Webmasters whipped up a searing 28-12 rally in the windup to come up with a 25-point rout.

Isaiah Blanco, son of former PBA star now Cebu City Councilor Dondon Hontiveros, chipped in 17 markers while King Balaga added 10 points for the Baby Webmasters, who will start their title defense against the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals on Monday.

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