CEBU CITY – It took all of a minute for University of San Carlos head coach Britt Reroma to realize that it was going to be a long night for him and the Warriors in Game Two of the 15th Cesafi men’s basketball finals on Tuesday.
On their very first possession, Charles Pepito got into a bit of a verbal tussle with University of the Visayas’ Jun Manzo. Reroma quickly yanked Pepito out of the game and the reliable forward, who posts double-double averagees, ended up with his worst performance of the season with just three points and seven rebounds.
The Warriors ended up losing to the Green Lancers, 63-70, and the best-of-five Cesafi finals series was tied at a game apiece.
Game Three is on Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
“In every championship series, mental toughness is very important. That’s the key for this game. We weren’t mentally prepared to play in Game Two,” lamented Reroma of his team’s emotional outbursts – which included unsportsmanlike fouls called on reserve guard Christian Macononcido and the usually unflappable Shooster Olago who was caught giving his UV counterpart Steve Akomo a kick.
“We need to learn from a tough loss. Adjustment-wise, we must be mentally ready come Game Three. We need to win the rebounding battle to stop their transition offense,” he added.
UV head coach Gary Cortes, on the other hand, expressed satisfaction with how his team is performing in the finals even after losing the series-opener, 70-76.
“The players are peaking at this stage which is good,” said Cortes of his team that missed top wingman Leonard Santillan in Games One and Two due to a bum ankle. Santillan’s absence has been filled in admirably by fiery guard Jun Manzo who is averaging 20.5 points per game in the finals.
“Jun (Manzo) is a fighter. He’s like that every day on offense and on defense,” added Cortes.