CEBU CITY – The Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras withstood a comeback attempt by the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars to prevail, 61-58, in a bittersweet end to their title hopes during the final day of the round-robin semifinals in the 16th Cesafi basketball tournament on Thursday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
Already eliminated from the title chase after the University of San Carlos Warriors won over the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, 72-65, the Cobras turned it on late in the third and led by 13 before sputtering down the stretch.
Clutch free-throws by 6-foot-11 center Quintin Nzusi, however, preserved the close win for the Cobras, which allowed them to close the round with a 2-1 win-loss card, the same as USC and UV.
USC and UV though, claimed the finals seats by virtue of their higher point differentials. UV had a plus-5, USC finished with a plus-4 while SWU had a minus-9.
Macmac Tallo finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists including a tough fadeaway jumper at the third period buzzer that put them ahead, 51-38. Nzusi had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Still, the Cobras will find themselves on the outside looking for the second straight season in spite of a tremendous 12-game sweep of the classification round.
RJ Dinolan had 18 for the Jaguars, which finished the semis without a single win in three tries.
SWU-Phinma Cobras (61) - Tallo 15, Nzuzi 12, Barte 8, Bregondo 7, Molina 4, Polican 4, Racho 4, Imperial 3.
USJ-R Jaguars (58) - Dinolan 18, Navarra 8, Gastador 7, Pastias 7, Mantilla 6, Peromingan 4, Nunez 3, Catiloc 2, Sealana 2, Jopia 1.