CEBU CITY — University of San Carlos escaped with an 83-75 win over hard-fighting Cebu Institute of Technology-University in the Cesafi men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Warriors, runners-up last year, trailed by as many as 18 points but got huge endgame performances from Ian Tagapan and Ian Ortega to score their third win in a row, one behind the league-leading University of the Visayas Green (4-0).
Tagapan had a career-game with a near double-double of 29 points and nine rebounds while Ortega, who missed the Warriors’ finals loss to Southwestern University last season because of a torn ACL, scored all 13 of his points in the final frame.
Cameroonian import Shooster Olago struggled to find his footing against CIT-U’s tough zone defense but still managed to register 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Coming off a weeklong break, the Warriors played uninspired basketball and fell behind, 22-40, late in the second period.
After a fiery halftime scrubbing from head coach Britt Reroma, the Warriors got their acts together and started the third with 13-2 run that eventually got them to within 11 points, 48-59, heading to the last period.
The Wildcats though, kept it together and maintained the lead at 10, after a transition bucket by Steven Bucao and a lay-up by Karl Lucena off a gorgeous pick and roll play, halfway through the fourth. But USC kept on pushing and finally took the driver’s seat, 69-66, after a floater by Tagapan and free-throws by Olago and Tagapan, 3:07 remaining.
CIT-U retaliated with an undergoal stab by forward Mark Kong but USC was relentless with Victor Rabat sinking a three-pointer to raise their lead to four, 72-68. The Wildcats last threatened at 70-72, after a deuce from Joshua de la Cerna but Ortega found his stroke, as he followed up a free-throw by Olago with a transition bucket and a corner triple for a 78-70, with 41.4 seconds to go.
De la Cerna, the league’s leading scorer, came away with 27 points and eight rebounds while Bucao chipped in 16.
Meanwhile, the juniors division saw a shocker as the University of Cebu Baby Webmasters upset last year’s runners-up UV Baby Lancers, 70-64.
Johnbryl Cuyos scored 19 points to lead UC to their third win against two losses. Froilan Mangubat had 18 while Luigi Gabisan had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Jancork Cabahug did all he could for UV with 27 points and 19 rebounds but it wasn’t enough to stop the team from falling to their third loss in five outings.
USC (83) - Tagapan 29, Olago 17, Ortega 13, Pepito 8, McAloney 7, Rabat 3, Magat 2, Suarez 2, Laguyo 2, Maconocido 0, Oleodo 0.
CIT-U (75) - Dela Cerna 27, Bucao 16, Pono 7, Lucena 7, Kong 7, Taghoy 5, Dimco 4, Sanchez 2, Mumar 0.
Quarterscores: 10-21; 26-43; 48-59; 83-75.
UC (70) - Cuyos 21, Mangubat 20, Gabisan 15, Soco 5, Umpad 5, Abejo 3, Hemida 1, Labrada 0, Malubay 0, Florita 0, Intrampas 0, Ecal 0, Santome 0.
UV (64) - Cabahug 27, Laurente 17, Maglasang 9, Ro, Alforque 5, Membrano 3, Ra. Alforque 2, Yerro 2, Amistoso 0, Evardo 0, Saliot 0, Oche 0, Paraldo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-10; 28-22; 47-48; 70-64.