UV retains Cesafi men’s basketball title with hard-fought victory over USJ-R in Game 3
The University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers leaned on their championship mettle, uncorking a blistering 15-2 run in the last seven minutes of the game to pull off a 74-61 win over the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars in Game Three and capture the title in the 2018 Cesafi men’s basketball tournament on Monday night at the packed Cebu Coliseum.
The title completed a rare “three-peat” for the Lancers, winning their third straight crown and 13th overall, cementing their reputation as the most dominant team in the south.
Rey Anthony Suerte finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals and was later named college Most Valuable Player for the second time in three seasons.
Tied at 59-all after USJ-R came all the way back from a 13-point deficit, UV stayed the course with rookie standout Jafet Claridad reprising his Game One heroics, converting a three-pointer to shatter the deadlock.
After a free throw by Bassiere Sackor, Claridad made USJ-R pay yet again, with another triple from the opposite side before Sackor added another layup off a great feed from Gileant Delator for a 68-59 lead.
Adding to USJ-R’s woes was the fifth and final foul of star guard and former MVP Jaybie Mantilla with 5:34 to go.
After Nichole Ubalde stopped the bleeding for the Jaguars with a floater, Suerte shut the door on USJ-R, making a short jumper and a layup over Nigerian big man Segamars Ewenike for a 73-61 lead with 1:07 to go.
Claridad, Bacolod’s long-range bomber, added 15 off the bench, making four three-
Sackor, who missed most of the second half with four fouls, had 14 points and 14 boards while Jancork Cabahug was effective, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Also of note was the heads-up play of Ted Saga, who was inserted into the game in lieu of Sackor and delivered five straight points in crucial stretch of the fourth. He finished with six.
“I have always had faith in my players, which is why I believed when players like Ted Saga and Jim Paul Amistoso were placed in,” said UV head coach Gary Cortes, who served his suspension but watched the game from the bleachers. “I have to give it up to the players. They kept at it when we didn’t start well and still got the championship.”
The loss was a heartbreaking one for the Jaguars, who were vying to end a 25-year title drought.
Fletcher Galvez, Ewenike and Ubalde each had 12 points for a USJ-R squad that struggled to find the mark all game, finishing with a 33 percent shooting clip. They also shot themselves in the foot, missing 15 of their 21 attempts from the line.
Mantilla, playing in his final Cesafi game, was also held down to 4-of-12 shooting, for just 11 points.
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