CEBU CITY — University of San Jose-Recoletos survived a spirited challenge by the undermanned University of San Carlos, 74-69, to move closer to gaining a top two spot in the 17th Cesafi basketball tournament on Sunday at the Cebu Coliseum.
MVP contender Jaybie Mantilla scored seven of his 19 points in the fourth as the Jaguars notched their fifth win in seven games. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
RJ Dinolan added 17 points, 10 boards and seven assists for USJ-R.
Victor Nunez had 11 points, four boards and two steals for the Jaguars, who are hoping to gain a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
USC fought hard without big men Malcolm Tan, Kenn Oguis, Kent Cabanog and Leo Labiste, suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation in their last game against the University of Southern Philippines Foundation.
Down 12 in the fourth, the Warriors turned to rookie John Reel Saycon, who scored 11 straight points to bring them to within five, 57-62. But Mantilla answered with a short jumper and two free-throws while Dinolan had an and-one in transition to push USJ-R’s lead back to 10 points, 69-59.
The Warriors got to within four, 69-73, after a triple by Arc Gabrielle Araw-Araw and even had a shot to trim the deficit but he missed a wide-open three-pointer from the corner.
Saycon finished with 26 points for USC, which fell to 6-4.
USJ-R 74 — Mantilla 19, Dinolan 17, Nunez 11, Catiloc 7, Pacanuayan 6, Peromingan 4, Ubalde 4, Cabrera 4, Compra 2.
USC 69 — Saycon 26, Mangubat 12, Cadavis 8, Araw-Araw 6, Trangia 4, Oleodo 3, Ecarma 3, Rabat 3, Aranas 2, Marata 2.
Quarterscores: 21-12; 36-31; 56-46; 74-69.