CEBU CITY – The University of Cebu Junior Webmasters ended a decade-long title drought as they dethroned the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers with an 83-81 victory in Game 2 to sweep the best-of-three finals series in the juniors division of the 2018 Cesafi basketball tournament.
Marc Delgado, Joshua Gellacone and Isaiah Blanco came up with crucial baskets down the stretch to put away the erstwhile champions and hoist the championship trophy for the first time since 2008, when current Talk N Text KaTropa forward Roger Ray Pogoy still held court for the Junior Webmasters.
Guard Jerick Jan Ranido was named Finals MVP after he put up 20 points, three assists and two steals. Gellacone had 13 markers while Blanco nearly had a double-double with nine points and 11 boards.
The Junior Webmasters led by as much as 21, 39-18, but the Baby Lancers made their way back and even grabbed the lead, 75-73, after a pull-up jumper from Gabriel Cometa with 4:18 remaining in the ballgame.
UC however, responded with six straight points with buckets from Gellacone, Blanco and Delgado to regain the upper hand, 79-75. Moments later, UV lost star forward Joshua Yerro, who committed his fifth foul for pushing off Blanco who was closely guarding him in the post.
The Baby Lancers still hung tough as Popoy Actub made a lay-up to pull them to within two, 77-79. The left-handed Blanco then showed nerves of steel as he pulled up from beyond the arc and made a three-pointer to give UC a five-point, 82-77, with 1:19 to go.
UV pulled to within one, 82-81, with 9.8 seconds left after Samuel Melicor and Cometa made lay-ups. On UC’s next possession, the ball eventually made its way to Justin Mondares who was fouled with 2.8 ticks remaining.
He made the first to give the Baby Webmasters an 83-81 lead before missing the second. With no more timeouts left, Actub grabbed the rebound and missed a heave from halfcourt as time expired, to give UC the title-clinching victory.
“It was all about defense. I told the boys at halftime we had to play defense. What happened was when our shots stopped falling, our defense stopped as well and that was why UV was able to come back,” said UC’s emotional head coach Joever Samonte, who finally won a title after previously losing in his last two trips.
UV got 20 points and 16 boards from Yerro, and 19 points and 11 rebounds from Actub. Cometa added 14.