CEBU CITY - The University of the Visayas Green Lancers moved a win away from capturing their 11th league title as they manhandled the defending champions University of San Carlos Warriors, 69-54, to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five finals of the 16th Cesafi men’s basketball tournament on Monday at the Cebu Coliseum.
Just like the series opener, UV unleashed a fiery run at the start of the second half as they rattled off 11 straight points to open up leads that went as high as 23 before going on cruise control the rest of the way.
High-leaping wingman Rey Suerte was UV’s high-point man with 13 points while Liberian forward Bassiere Sackour added 11 markers and gobbled up 15 boards.
Power forward Monic Soliva continued his fine play down the stretch as he piled up 10 points and 14 boards while Sheldon Gahi was a sparkplug off the bench with 10 markers.
UV’s defense was just as fierce as they clamped down on USC’s shooters and held them to just 1-of-14 shooting from long range. Sweet-shooting wingman Kevin Oleodo, USC's leading scorer, was limited to just four and missed all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Nobody from USC reached double figures with Ian Tagapan managing nine. Things were so bad on this night for USC that Congolese import Scotty Ntumba even missed two uncontested slam-dunks during the fourth canto.
The Warriors were down by just eight, 24-32, at halftime when the Green Lancers cranked up the defense and forced USC into one turnover after another. UV then capitalized on those errors with Suerte and Alfred Codilla making one triple each in that telling run to give them a 43-24 lead, 6:19 left in the third.
The lead grew to 55-32 after Gahi canned another triple with 1:16 remaining in that same stretch. USC could only come as close as 16 in the fourth.
“The players are just very hungry for the victory and the title,” said head coach Gary Cortes of his team’s dominance so far in this series.
A win in Game Three on Thursday would hand the Green Lancers the title and sweet revenge for the loss they suffered at the hands of the Warriors in last year’s finals. It would also be their first title since 2013 and their first sweep since 2005.
“This is the finals. Everybody is just staying focused on the gameplan and the goal. That’s the difference,” said Soliva, who was adjudged as the game’s best player for the second straight game.
UV (69) Suerte 13, Sackour 11, Soliva 10, Gahi 10, Albina 9, Napao 6, Segumpan 5, Codilla 3, Balabag 2
USC (53) Tagapan 9, Ntumba 8, Catapusan 7, Rabat 7, Langres 5, Laguyo 4, Oleodo 4, Divinagracia 3, Munez 3, Ecarma 2, Tan 2
Quarterscores: 17-13, 32-24, 55-34, 69-54