CEBU CITY – Sophomore point guard Jun Manzo continued to be the biggest thorn in the side of the University of San Carlos Warriors, scoring 20 points to lead the University of the Visayas Green Lancers to 70-63 win in Game Two of the Cesafi Finals on Tuesday at the Cebu Coliseum.
The win evened the best-of-five series at 1-1 with the tie set to be broken in Game Three on Thursday.
After scoring 21 in Game One, the crafty guard showed USC that there was plenty more from where that came from as he carved up the Warriors defense for 16 in the first half to help the Green Lancers open leads as big as 20 before weathering a late USC storm.
Skipper Franz Arong had 11 markers, including two free-throws that put UV out of the danger zone after a 60-40 lead was sliced down to just five, 68-63, with 15 seconds left. The veteran wingman added four rebounds and two steals.
Cameroonian Steve Akomo also chipped in a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards laced with two steals and two blocks. More importantly, he helped frustrate his USC counterpart, Shooster Olago, for most of the game before the latter came alive in the fourth to anchor the Warriors’ comeback.
UV came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and built a 22-14 lead. Manzo fuelled an emphatic finishing kick in the second canto with a long shotclock-beating triple and a looping floater that found nothing but the bottom of the net to put UV in front, 41-27, at the turn.
The Lancers continued their onslaught and erected their biggest lead at 21, 51-30, with 4:59 left in the third frame after consecutive transition buckets from Josue Segumpan and Arvie Cabanero and a strong drive down the lane by Alfred Codilla.
UV remained comfortably ahead by 15, 68-53, after a fastbreak layup by Arong and a tip-in by Akomo with 2:19 left when the Warriors rallied behind Olago and Tagapan who combined to score 10 unanswered points capped by a booming trey by the latter that pulled them to within five.
But with no team fouls across its slate, USC ran out of time trying to rack up fouls and Arong sealed the win with two makes from the charity stripe with 4.5 ticks left in the clock.
Afterwards, a relieved Gary Cortes, UV’s head coach, credited their relentless defense.
“We were just more organized on defense for most of the game which helped keep Steve (Akomo) preserve his fouls and help in guarding (Shooster) Olago,” Cortes said.
Asked about the offensive explosion of Manzo in the finals, Cortes said that he was the least surprised.
“What you’re seeing now on the court, we see it every day. How he practices is how he plays and he practices hard. The kid’s work ethic is unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable hard worker,” Cortes added.
Olago scored 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for USC, which is trying to win their first title in the Cesafi. Tagapan added 15 markers.
UV (70) - Manzo 20, Arong 11, Cabañero 10, Akomo 9, Suerte 6, Codilla 6, Mendoza 4, Aguirre 2, Segumpan 2, Napao 0, Macion 0.
USC (63) - Olago 27, Tagapan 15, Laguyo 5, Rabat 5, Suarez 3, Ortega 3, Pepito 3, McAloney 2, Lim 0, Magat 0, Maconocido 0.
Quarter Scores: 22-14; 41-27; 56-36; 70-63.