CEBU CITY – University of San Carlos inched closer of clinching the no. 3 seed in the semifinals of the 17th Cesafi men’s basketball tournament after outlasting Southwestern University-Phinma, 76-72, Thursday night at the Cebu Coliseum here.
The win was the Warriors’ seventh in 11 games, giving them some breathing room over University of Cebu, which is just a game behind at 6-5.
USC and UC square off this Saturday for the right to claim the third seed.
The Warriors had to find their bearings after losing a huge 23-point lead and trailed, 71-72, after Cobras forward Mac Racho swished a corner triple with 1:52 to go.
But USC big man Malcolm Tan tied the game with a free-throw, before former Arellano Chief Julius Cadavis pushed them back in front, 74-72, with a jumper from the keyhole area with 51.4 seconds remaining.
The Cobras had several chances to tie or take the lead but blew them all.
Rookie John Reel Saycon first stole a kickout pass that eventually turned into a made free-throw by USC guard Victor Rabat for a 75-72 lead, before SWU-Phinma sniper Daryl Nazareno missed an ill-advised three-pointer. Tan sealed the deal for USC by making another free-throw for the final tally.
Kurt Trangia and Tan each had 13 points for USC with. Tan rounding out his stellar performance with 16 rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. Former San Beda Red Cub Kevin Oleodo had 11, while Rabat and Cadavis submitted 10 markers each.
Senior guard John Lloyd Luz, playing in his final Cesafi game, led the Cobras with 15 points and six assists. Racho and ex-Adamson Falcon Gerald Fernandez added 14 apiece.
The Cobras will be missing the semifinals as they bowed out with a 4-8 mark.
USC (76) -- Trangia 13, Tan 13, Oleodo 11, Rabat 10, Cadavis 10, Saycon 9, Cabanog 6, Oguis 2, Araw-Araw 2.
SWU (72) -- Luz 15, Racho 14, Fernandez 14, Nazareno 9, Imperial 7, Pardo 5, Polican 2, Ugsang R. 2, Ugsang Z. 2, Bilao 2.
Quarterscores: 19-8; 39-24; 53-51; 76-72.