CEBU CITY – The University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars kept their bid for a top two finish alive with a resounding 74-57 rout of the league-leading University of Cebu Webmasters in the 2018 Cesafi men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
The win gave USJ-R a 7-3 (win-loss) record, placing them half a game behind the second-place University of the Visayas, which has an 8-3 card.
After starting the season with eight straight wins, UC has lost steam, losing two of their last three games to fall to 9-2 with one more game left on their schedule — a marquee showdown on Sunday against bitter rivals, UV.
The top two finishers after the elimination round will head to the Final Four with a twice-to-beat advantage against seeds three and four.
The Webmasters played without stud guard Darrell Shane Menina for the second straight game. Menina had already served his one-game suspension for his role in the post-game fracas against the Cebu Institute of Technology-University. However, he had yet to render community service – part of the penance for an ejection in the Cesafi – which was what kept him off the floor against the Jaguars.
The Jaguars pulled away in the third, turning a slim six-point halftime lead into a commanding 57-43 bulge heading to the fourth after a buzzer-beating triple from reigning MVP Jaybie Mantilla.
USJ-R eventually brought the lead to a high of 17, 69-52, before cruising to the win.
Miguel Gastador led USJ-R in scoring with 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting while Mantilla had 17 points and 11 assists along with four rebounds and four steals. Ewenike tallied 16 points, eight boards and three blocks and was also critical in anchoring a stellar defense that held UC to a mere 32% shooting clip.
Paul Galinato paced UC in scoring with 18 points but shot just 7-of-20. Cameroonian forward Frederick Elombi added 17 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.
USJ-R (74) Gastador 18, Mantilla 17, Ewenike 16, Ubalde 8, Echavez 7, Dinolan 6, Galvez 2
UC (54) Galinato 18, Elombi 17, Abapo 6, Jabello 5, Codilla 3, Tagudin 3, Dacalos 2
Quarterscores: 18-12, 31-25, 57-43, 74-57