USJ-R Jaguars back in Cesafi basketball finals after 10 years
The University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars advanced to the finals of the 2018 Cesafi men’s basketball tournament for the first time in 10 years.
The Jaguars came all the way back from a 21-point deficit to take down the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors in the Final Four, 80-66, and make their way to the finals on Saturday at the Cebu Coliseum.
Down 12-33 early in the second, Jaguars star and reigning MVP Jaybie Mantilla admitted that flashes of last season’s colossal meltdown against the University of Cebu went through his mind.
Adamant in his refusal to let that happen again, Mantilla willed his Jaguars back, firing in four three-pointers in the second allowing USJ-R to close the gap, 37-45, at halftime. A 22-8 run in the third capped by a tough deuce by Miguel Gastador then shoved the Jaguars in front, 59-53, heading to the fourth canto.
The Warriors tried to keep close but a stepback jumper by Tricky Peromingan and a right-wing three-pointer by Nichole Ubalde shut the door on USC as it gave USJ-R a 79-66 lead, with 1:06 to go.
Mantilla narrowly missed a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“This is my final season playing for USJ-R. I just wanted to give something back to the school and the community that has supported us all this years,” shared Mantilla.
Mantilla got plenty of help as four others scored in double figures. Gastador added 13, Segamars Ewenike and Ubalde had 12 markers each while RJ Dinolan, who missed his graduation ceremonies in lieu of this game, chipped in 10.
The last time the Jaguars made it this far was in 2008 when a team led by the likes of Luther Justiniani, Jan Malinao, Armand Ponce and Lyndon Gudez lost to the University of the Visayas, who at the time still had current Barangay Ginebra star, Greg Slaughter.
Sommy Managor paced USC with 17 points while John Reel Saycon had 15.
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