CEBU CITY — University of Cebu sent their semifinal showdown with University of San Jose-Recoletos to a do-or-die game with an 81-70 victory in the 17th Cesafi basketball tournament on Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Webmasters got significant production from their local crew to supplement the usual scoring of Cameroon’s Frederick Elombi.
On the other end of the floor, UC stymied USJ-R stars Jaybie Mantilla and RJ Dinolan and held them below their averages to earn the win and take a step closer towards making it back to the finals for the first time since 2011, when reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo still patrolled the shaded lane for the yellow and blue.
Lanky forward JR Puerto led the Webmasters in scoring with 20 points to go with five rebounds and three blocks. Elombi had 19 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
The wing combination of Joren Tagudin and John Jabello drained a combined five triples en route to scoring 14 and 12, respectively. Justine Dacalos had 11 points, seven boards, five dimes and five steals.
The semifinal decider is set on Saturday.
UC turned it up late in the first half with a searing 15-4 run sparked by Elombi, Jabello and Dacalos, to head to the dugout with a 46-34 advantage.
The Webmasters then stepped on the gas some more in the third and ended that stretch with an even 20-point lead, 68-48, after Puerto beat the buzzer with a corner jumper.
An 18-3 run by the Jaguars late in the fourth brought the final tally to a respectable margin after it grew to 26.
USJ-R’s leading MVP contender Mantilla was held to just 13 points on a woeful 3-of-12 shooting clip. He made matters worse by turning the ball over five times and missed four of his 10 free-throw attempts. Dinolan fared no better as he had just 10, missing eight of his 11 attempts.
UC 81 - Puerto 20, Elombi 19, Tagudin 14, Jabello 12, Dacalos 11, Olmilla 4, Kishimoto 1.
USJ-R 70 - Mantilla 13, Pacanuayan 11, Dinolan 10, Catiloc 9, Gastador 7, Calang 6, Navarra 6, Peromingan 4, Nunez 4, Ubalde 1.
Quarterscores: 16-18; 46-36; 68-48; 81-70.