Victor Rabat, Scotty Ntumba come up clutch as USC Warriors seal place in Final Four
USC gunner Kevin Oleodo scores on a drive against the U Webmasters. Ron Tolin

CEBU CITY – Defending champions University of San Carlos Warriors made their way back to the semifinals after outlasting the University of Cebu Webmasters, 68-66, in the 16th Cesafi men’s basketball competition on Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum.

Veteran swingman Victor Rabat and Cameroonian center Scotty Ntumba made one clutch play after another to push the Warriors past the undersized yet resilient Webmasters and into the Final Four where they are joined by the University of the Visayas Green Lancers and the unbeaten Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras.

USC was up by two, 57-55, when Rabat canned a triple from the right wing right before the shot clock expired. The next trip down the floor, Rabat swished another from the very same spot to put the Warriors up by eight, 63-55, with 2:02 to go.

But UC was not yet done as they pulled within 61-63 after six straight points that was capped by a bank shot by Peter Codilla, 58.1 ticks remaining. Rabat however, responded with yet another three-pointer to push their lead back to five, 66-61, with just 34.6 seconds left.

The Webmasters trimmed the deficit back down to two, after guard Justine Dacalos made a trey four seconds later. On USC’s offensive, Conrad Catapusan missed a baseline jumper but Ntumba imposed his will on his smaller defenders to grab the offensive rebound and put it back in to give the Warriors a four-point cushion, 68-64, 14.1 ticks remaining.

The Webmasters once again pulled to within two after Gileant Delator made two from the line with 12.8 seconds remaining. However, UC had trouble getting into the penalty situation and did not do so until they fouled USC’s Ian Tagapan with only 1.8 ticks on the clock.

Tagapan missed both charities but Dacalos’ halfcourt heave went nowhere, to give USC the win.

Kevin Oleodo and Ntumba had 14 points each with the latter adding 12 boards. Rabat ended up with 10.

For the Webmasters, the loss put an end to their season in spite of Dacalo’s 15-point night.

The scores:

USC Warriors (68) - Ntumba 14, Oleodo 14, Rabat 10, Divinagracia 7, Catapusan 5, Munez 4, Tan 2, Laguyo 2, Langres 2, Ecarma 1.

UC Webmasters (66) - Dacalos 15, Puerto 10, Delator 9, Mayol 9, Culango 8, Codilla 4, Jabello 4, Paghasian 4, Suelto 2.

Quarterscores: 13-19; 30-29; 46-45; 68-66 

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