CEBU CITY – For the second game in a row, University of San Carlos played the spoilers role against a team hopeful of snagging a berth in the 15th Cesafi men’s basketball tournament after thrashing University of San Jose-Recoletos, 87-74, on Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
Cameroonian reinforcement Shooster Olago played like a man possessed as he punished USJ-R’s interior defenders to finish with a game-high 30 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.
He also anchored the Warriors’ breakaway late in the second period that paved the way for USC to stay on top with their ninth win in 10 outings
Power forward Charles Pepito kept his string of double-doubles going by tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds while reserve forward Mavii Suarez chipped in 13.
USC held a slim 27-24 lead when Olago’s offense started humming, first scoring on a baseline drive and then, on a putback where he muscled his way past three USJ-R defenders to nab the offensive board.
He then hit a fadeaway jumper before the halftime buzzer to help USC build a 41-25 lead.
The Warriors kept the pressure up and extended their lead to 55-33 after Suarez scored off a gorgeous spin move that left his defender sprawling, and a free-throw by Pepito.
The Jaguars rallied and came within 14 several times in the final canto, the last at 53-67, but Olago and reserve guard Gio Laguyo shut the door on USJ-R by scoring on back-to-back lay-ins.
The loss was the sixth in 10 matches for USJ-R and proved to be a costly one as it left an opening for both Cebu Institute of Technology-University (4-7) and University of Cebu (3-6) to stay in the hunt in the race for the last spot in the semifinals.
RJ Dinolan led USJ-R with 19 markers, while former Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraw Ricky Peromingan added 13. Rookie guards Jaybie Mantilla and Miguel Gastador contributed 11 each.
USC (87) -- Olago 30, Pepito 17, Suarez 13, Tagapan 5, Magat 5, Laguyo 4, Maconocido 3, Ortega 2, Rabat 2, McAloney 2, Adlawan 2, Lim 0, Oleodo 0.
USJ-R (74) -- Dinolan 19, Peromingan 13, Mantilla 11, Gastador 11, Labares 8, Navarra 6, Villafranca 5, Bayhonan 1, Senining 0, Risma 0, Moral 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 41-25; 61-45; 87-74.