The University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers kept on track for a straight path to the finals but needed to overhaul a 12-point deficit to outclass the Cebu Eastern College (CEC) Dragons, 64-61, in the 17th Cesafi high school basketball tournament last night at the Cebu Coliseum.
Down by 12, 29-41, in the third, UV leaned on its veteran tandem of Beirn Laurente and JJ Rosete, who hit a three-pointer and two free throws, respectively, to push the Baby Lancers in front for good and help them get their eighth straight win.
Laurente led UV with 15 points, high-leaping forward Joshua Yerro added 13, while Rosete and Jhiey Paraldo had 11 apiece as the Baby Lancers pushed their win-loss card to 8-0 and stand a victory away from sweeping the elimination round and gaining an outright spot in the championship round.
CEC still had a 59-54 lead when UV rallied to tie the game at 59-all after Rosete hit a shot-clock beating triple from the top of the arc.
Dragons star James Tempra briefly gave the lead back to CEC with a tip-in, but the Baby Lancers were relentless in their pursuit and pulled in front, 62-61, after a booming three-pointer by Laurente from the left wing with 1:55 to go. Rosete canned two free throws 30 seconds later to bring their lead to 64-61.
Things got very testy down the stretch as CEC’s bench rued an out-of-bounds call that they believe should have went its way. On the other side, UV coaches howled in protest after officials refused to call a foul on CEC’s John Galarse, who was purposely fouling Laurente to stop the clock.
Instead, a shot clock violation was called on UV, giving possession back to CEC with 5.4 seconds left. However, the Dragons failed to capitalize as Michael Gaid’s potential game-tying triple attempt went nowhere.
Fireworks ensued after the game as CEC consultant Mark Tallo pleaded his case with officials while things got chippy between the players of the two teams during the customary postgame handshake. Things were kept from escalating further as the coaches ordered their players to the dugout.
Galarse led CEC, which dropped to 3-4, with 12 points. Jess Gabutero and Tempra finished with 10 each.