CEBU CITY – Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu sent the 15th Cesafi juniors basketball finals to a deciding game after pulling away late in a 63-53 win over feisty University of Cebu in Game Two Thursday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
Dragged to the mud by a UC side that knows no quitting, Cadiz City-native Errol Pastor saved the Magis Eagles’ season with a furious fourth quarter performance, anchoring a telling 11-2 run that turned a 46-47 deficit into a 57-49 cushion that paved the way to tie the best-of-three title series at 1-1.
The deciding Game 3 will be played Saturday at 3 p.m.
Pastor played a heck of a game as he made up for his paltry Game 1 performance by scoring 23 points – 12 coming during that pivotal fourth – and added 23 rebounds and four steals.
The Magis Eagles backcourt of Travis Mantua and Jed Colonia also made a huge difference as Mantua had 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals while Colonia, the one-time Batang Gilas, contributed 10 points, seven boards, five assists, and two steals.
Sacred Heart appeared poise to rip the game apart after a 14-2 blast fueled by six points from Pastor, gave the reigning champions a 30-19 lead late in the second period.
But the gritty Baby Webmasters answered right back with a 17-5 run that bridged the second and third periods to reclaim the driver’s seat, 36-32. UC eventually took a 41-39 lead going to the final quarter.
Momentum appeared to be going UC’s side as it took a 47-46 lead on a booming triple from two-guard Froilan Mangubat as the Baby Webmasters seemed ready to win their first ever title since 2008.
But Pastor suddenly got into a groove and scored two quick baskets in transition to give the lead back to Ateneo de Cebu. Later, he shot a looping runner and stole the ball and went all the way for an unmolested lay-up.
Wayne Bersaluna then capped the huge Magis Eagles uprising with an and-one to give them a 57-49 lead with 3:44 to go.
UC guard Brylle Cuyos momentarily stopped the bleeding with a transition bucket, but Pastor was once again up to the task, sinking another lay-up and then issuing a nifty assist to big man Christian Manaytay to put the game out of reach, 61-51, in the final 54 seconds.
An obviously relieved Ateneo de Cebu head coach Rommel Rasmo recalled how he implored the Magis Eagles to leave nothing on the floor with their season on the line during a timeout early in the fourth.
“I just told them that this is their chance to equalize the series and that they should make the most out of it,” said the multi-titled mentor.
Ateneo de Cebu’s defense held its ground and limited UC’s Game 1 stalwarts, Gelmart Umpad and Luigi Gabisan to a combined six points after piling 25 in the series-opening 73-63 win.
The Baby Webmasters got 18 from Mangubat and 13 from Jayson Abejo.
SHS-AdC (63) -- Pastor 23, Mantua 11, Colonia 10, Chen 5, Bersaluna 4, Manaytay 4, Javelosa 3, Calumpang 2, P. Yu 0, Visser 0, J. Yu 0.
UC (53) -- Mangubat 18, Abejo 13, Ecal 5, Cuyos 4, Gabisan 4, Santome 4, Malubay 3, Umpad 2, Soco 0, Labrada 0, Cabansay 0, Hemida 0, Pando 0, Florita 0.
Quarterscores: 12-9; 30-23; 39-41; 63-53.