CEBU CITY – University of Cebu authored the biggest upset in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) juniors tournament after stunning unbeaten defending champion Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, 73-63, in Game One of the finals at the Cebu Coliseum here.
With long-range sniper Froilan Mangubat hitting clutch triples and diminutive guard Gelmart Umpad – all 4-foot-10 of him – picking Ateneo de Cebu’s vaunted defense apart, the Baby Webmasters took control of the match in the second period and then stood their ground against the Magis Eagles in the homestretch to move within a win of bagging the crown they last won seven years ago.
Mangubat proved to be the biggest thorn on Ateneo’s side as he registered across-the-board numbers of 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and five steals in the win that put aside all talks about the Baby Webmasters not having a chance against the mighty Magis Eagles weeks leading to the best-of-three finals.
The feisty Umpad meanwhile, scored six of the team’s last eight points including a breakaway lay-up with a little over a minute left that thwarted the Magis Eagles’ rally. He scored 14 points, pulled down five rebounds, and issued four assists.
Jason Abejo also came off the bench to score 15, while Luigi Gabisan tallied 11 to hand the Magis Egales their first loss in a dozen games this season.
Ateneo de Cebu came into the game with their confidence high after destroying University of Cebu in their two previous encounters this season, 76-62 and 79-47.
For a while, the Magis Eagles appeared poise to repeat the feat as they led, 20-14, after the first quarter.
But the Baby Webmasters responded with nine straight points to start the second and regain the lead, 23-20. The Magis Eagles answered right back to take the driver’s seat once more, 27-26, before Abejo completed a rare four-point play and Mangubat followed it up with a triple to give UC a 33-27 advantage at the break.
The three-pointers kept falling for the Baby Webmasters as Abejo and Mangubat each sank one in a brief 8-0 spurt to give UC its first double-digit advantage, 47-37. Magis Eagles’ guard Jed Colonia beat the third period buzzer with one of his own to trim the deficit down to seven.
Ateneo de Cebu pulled to within four (61-65) after a triple by Patrick Yu and a baseline jumper by Colonia with 1:19 to go but in the ensuing UC inbound, Umpad broke free, caught a lob pass and sank an uncontested lay-up to push the lead back to six.
Umpad and Mangubat later converted four free-throws to clinch the win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Afterwards, an exhausted Joever Samonte, the team’s head coach, relished the surprising victory, saying. “It’s more fulfilling because nobody expected us to come away with a win.”
“We really worked on our conditioning and our zone defense in the two weeks leading to this game. Sacred Heart is a very strong team and we can’t beat them by going toe to toe with them on offense. So we needed to stay in front of them all of the time and play tough, solid defense,” added Samonte.
So relentless the Baby Webmasters’ defense that it held Colonia, the one-time Batang Gilas guard, and the team’s other sentinel, Errol Pastor, to a combined 9-of-24 shooting from the field.
Pastor finished with 11 while Colonia settled for nine even though he had seven rebounds and five assists.
Yu led the Magis Eagles with 13 markers, while big man Wayne Bersaluna added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
UC (73) -- Mangubat 23, Abejo 15, Umpad 14, Gabisan 11, Cuyos 5, Santome 5, Ecal 0, Cabansay 0, Soco 0, Hemida 0, Labrada 0, Florita 0, Malubay 0.
SHS-AdC (63) -- P. Yu 13, Bersaluna 11, Pastor 11, Mantua 9, Colonia 9, Manaytay 3, Calumpang 3, Chen 2, J. Yu 2, Javelosa 0, Chua 0, Visser 0.
Quarterscores: 14-20; 33-27; 47-40; 73-63.