Cesafi HS semis: UV Baby Lancers rout USJ-R, forces do-or-die duel
CEBU CITY, Philippines— The University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Green Lancers stunned the top-seed University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Baby Jaguars, 53-42, erasing the latter’s twice-to-beat advantage in the Cesafi Season 23 high school basketball tournament semifinals on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.
UV led by as many as 15 points, 33-18, at the start of the second half, primarily relying on their pesky defense and capitalizing on the absence of USJ-R’s head coach, Melo Banua.
Banua is currently serving a suspension due to an issue involving one of their collegiate players, EJ Agbong, who was caught falsifying records to play in the league.
That left the assistant coach, Edito Salacut, calling the shots for the Baby Jaguars in their loss to UV on Tuesday.
The Baby Green Lancers were already in control of the game from the get-go. They led by 11 in the first half, 29-18, before establishing their biggest lead at the start of the second half.
However, the Baby Jaguars showed some fight and managed to reduce the lead to eight, 37-29, after trailing by 15 at the start of the third period.
UV managed to bring their lead back by a dozen, 42-30, at the start of the final period when USJ-R came alive, unleashing an 11-3 scoring blitz. That cut the deficit to just four, 41-45, with 4:42 left in the game.
The Baby Green Lancers responded with back-to-back baskets from Ismael Coldura who finished the game with 10 points. That put them back ahead by eight, 49-41.
Adding insult to USJ-R’s injury was Salacut’s technical foul for resenting the referee’s call with 2:46 remaining in the game, while the team was already in the penalty.
Kent Castro brought UV’s lead back to double digits, 52-41, after canning a corner trey as time winded down. He then made one of his two free throws to complete UV’s shocking win against the heavily-favored USJ-R that defeated them, 52-58, in the elimination round.
John Dela Torre top-scored for UV with 18 points, while Neiljohn Bernante added 11 points, and Castro finished with seven markers.
Kyle Rueda scored 12 points, and Clark Candia contributed 10 points for USJ-R.
The do-or-die game between UV and USJ-R is on Sunday, December 9, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.
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