CEBU CITY — University of San Carlos are one win away from the Cesafi title after a masterful 87-76 victory over University of the Visayas on Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
After getting clobbered in the first half by a one-man show that was Jun Manzo who scored 21 points in that stretch, the Warriors came out of halftime a different squad and took control en route to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-three finals.
USC put the clamps on the latter and the rest of the Lancers, while unleashing an offensive attack anchored on Shooster Olago and Ian Tagapan to get the crucial victory.
Olago scored 27 of his 32 points in the final 20 minutes of play and pulled down 16 rebounds.
Tagapan, scored 14 of his 20 markers in the first half to keep the Warriors afloat in the face of the offensive barrage that was uncorked by Manzo, who scored 19 in the second period alone.
Charles Pepito bounced back from an anemic Game Two and notched a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Warriors go for their first Cesafi title in school history in Game Four set on Saturday afternoon.
UV turned a 13-21 deficit in the first period into a 42-38 lead at halftime.
The second half was all USC, which used a 12-2 run for a 50-44 lead.
Two free-throws by Tagapan off a foul by UV’s Steve Akomo gave them an eight-point advantage, 62-54, heading to the final frame.
USC took its biggest lead at 75-58, with 4:46 remaining and UV would come no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Manzo was held down to just four points in the second half and finished with 25. Arvie Cabanero was the only other double-digit scorer for UV with 11.
USC 87 - Olago 32, Tagapan 20, Pepito 10, Rabat 6, Ortega 4, Lim 3, McAloney 3, Magat 3, Suarez 3, Laguyo 2, Adlawan 1, Maconocido 0, Oleodo 0.
UV 76 - Manzo 25, Cabañero 11, Arong 9, Akomo 9, Santillan 6, Segumpan 5, Codilla 4, Mendoza 3, Suerte 2, Napao 2, Aguirre 0.
Quarterscores: 21-13; 38-42; 62-54; 87-76.