CEBU CITY – Defending champion Southwestern University put together a more collective effort to beat the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, 81-73, in the 15th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at the University of San Carlos gym.
The Cobras were hardly the struggling team that it was the last time opposite Cebu Institute of Technology-University (82-76) after moving the ball well and consistently finding the open man for easy baskets against the Panthers.
The result had five players finishing in double figures led by veteran wingman Janjan Auditor, who tallied 25 points to help the Cobras notched their seventh win in nine games.
Two-time league MVP Mac Tallo flirted with a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, while Anton Pardo also had 16, including a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer that capped an 8-0 SWU run for a 49-35 lead.
Filipino-Samoan rookie forward Juju Bautista also submitted a double-double of 14 points and 13 boards.
The Cobras extended the lead to as high as 66-46 after Pardo capped a 14-4 blast with another triple at the halfway point of the third.
But the Panthers relented and pulled to within 61-67, less than seven minutes to go in the game after a 9-0 blast sparked by the efforts of Karl Langahin, Lyndon Colina, and Wisdom Ceniza.
SWU though, nipped the uprising in the bud with a lay-up by John Lloyd Luz, two free-throws from Mac Racho, and a twisting leaner by Auditor to bring the lead back to 73-61.
After Langahin canned another three-point bomb to bring the deficit down to a single digit, Racho converted a lay-up and Auditor finished off his performance with a steal and a breakaway lay-up that put SWU further at 77-64.
Colina led USPF, which fell to 0-9, with 16, while Langahin pitched in 14 and Ceniza with 10.
In the juniors division, last year’s runners-up University of the Visayas gained a new lease on life after routing University of San Jose-Recoletos, 68-42, behind another dominant performance by Jancork Cabahug.
The ace forward tallied 27 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and the same number of steals.
The two teams will meet once again on Sunday in a winner-take-all match for the last semifinals berth and join two-time defending champion Ateneo de Cebu, University of San Carlos, and University of Cebu.
SWU (81) - Auditor 25, Tallo 16, Pardo 16, Bautista 12, Racho 10, Luz 5, Gonzaga 0, Holper 0.
USPF (73) - Colina 16, Langahin 14, Ceniza 10, Quiachon 9, Bajamunde 7, Patalinghug 3, Villamor 3, Bolivar 2, Borces 2, Sastrillas 2, Avanceña 2, Laver 2, Alocillo 1, Cando 0.
Quarterscores: 19-15; 49-35; 66-52; 81-73.
UV (68) - Cabahug 27, Ra. Alforque 12, Paraldo 6, Yerro 6, Saliot 5, Evardo 3, Laurente 2, Membrano 2, Maglasang 2, Balazuela 2, Ro. Alforque 1, Amistoso 0, Oche 0, Padilla 0, Valenzuela 0.
USJ-R (42) - Ortiz 10, Ibero 8, Gonzaga 6, Ando 6, Enriquez 4, Teleron 4, Dado 2, Camacho 2, Dela Cruz 0, Cruz 0, Cabatingan 0, Bascon 0.
Quarterscores: 14-4; 30-12; 53-25; 68-42.