CEBU CITY - The league-leaders remained in control as University of the Visayas and University of San Jose-Recoletos scuttled their respective opponents in the 12th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men's basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Jaguars got a huge boost from reserve forward Renato Abing, who scored 18 points including the game-winning lay-in in the final 9.7 seconds of a 75-74 win over University of Southern Philippines Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Lancers turned back Southwestern University, 95-86, for a sweep of all their games in the eliminations.
The win somehow avenged UV’s loss to SWU in the tournament semifinals last season that was marred by a near-brawl during the rubber match.
Putting that bitter memory behind, the Lancers proceeded to break down the Cobras' inside defense, with prized rookie Wowie Escosio leading the charge with 24 points, 14 of which came in the payoff period.
USJ-R remained in second place behind UV with a 5-1 (win-loss) card.
For the second game in a row, the Jaguars played complacently and nearly paid for it, losing a huge 16-point fourth quarter lead behind a 24-6 blast by the Panthers.
Rookie pointman Rexon Moneva anchored USP-F’s comeback. His consecutive baskets capped the Panthers’ sizzling run that turned a 49-65 deficit (7:19 in the fourth) to a 73-71 lead with 48 seconds left.
But Abulaiz Sulaiman countered for the Jaguars by scoring on a putback to tie the count at 73.
Jam Ferraren was fouled by Matthew Parker in the Panthers’ next play, but could only split his free throws to give USP-F its final taste of the lead, 74-73.
That’s the time Abing struck for the go-ahead basket for the Jaguars.
The Panthers had one last chance to turn the game around, but James Ferraren missed on a jumper at the buzzer, sealing the school’s fifth loss in as many games.
Abing finished with 18 points, three rebounds and four steals behind the game-high 19 of Sulaiman, while James Regalado and Banjo Capilar each submitted 10 points.
USPF got 20 from the younger Ferraren and 18 from Joseph Sedurifa.