USC Warriors outlast USP-F Panthers in thrilling game for 3rd place in Cesafi season 23
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors capped off their Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) Season 23 men’s basketball campaign as the third place winners after surviving a nail-biting, 59-57, Battle-for-Third place against the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Panthers on Sunday, December 10, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Warriors of head coach Paul Joven had an astonishing season after they qualified in the final four as a result of Cesafi slashing off three-games won by the University of San Jose-Recoletos’s due to EJ Agbong’s controversy earlier this month.
Sanction against USJ-R, sends USC to final four
That sanction booted out USJ-R as the No. 4 seed of the final four with USC replacing them.
USC went on to face the formidable men’s basketball defending champions, the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers and lost 49-69.
However, their story didn’t end there as they won third place and earn the bronze medal after defeating the Panthers on Sunday evening.
It was also a sweet revenge for USC after they lost to the Panthers last November 11, 76-79, in the eliminations.
Gica tows USC to 3rd place win
This time, they were on the winning side after eking out a hard-fought win with James Paolo Gica leading them with his 15-point outing, nine of which was scored in the second half.
Bryle Andres Puntual had 12 points, while Adam Elnour and VJ Baruc combined for 15 points.
USPF’s Christian Jay Alilin finished with 16 points, while Neon Chavez added 11 markers, and Al-je Mendez tallied nine points.
USC commanded the first two periods. They started with a blistering 19-6 lead in the first period and went on to stretch their lead to 19, 45-26, in the second half.
USP-F claws back from 19 points down
However, USPF slowly chipped the huge lead until they eventually cut the lead to just three, 53-58, with 1:12 remaining in the final period from the collective efforts of Alilin, Mendez, and Chavez.
Also, USPF made crucial defensive stops that forced USC to miss their shots in the remainder of the final period.
The Panthers breathed down the Warriors’ necks after Chavez canned both free throws, cutting the lead to just one, 57-58, with 5.4 ticks left, forcing USC to burn a timeout.
USP-F runs out of time
With USP-F racing against time, they could not do anything but to force a foul to prolong the game, sending Gica to the charity stripe and split his two free throws to come up with the final score.
USPF had the chance to cross the ball to the other end, but time ran out, giving USC their hard-earned win.
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