CEBU CITY — University of Southern Philippines Foundation kept its semifinal hopes alive with a stunning 88-81 win over the second-running University of San Carlos on Tuesday in the 17th Cesafi basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum.
After a 90-92 loss to cellar-dwelling Cebu Institute of Technology-University, the Panthers played with a renewed commitment to defense and led by as many as 12 points before holding their ground to earn their third win in eight games.
USPF is chasing UC, which totes a 4-4 card, for the last spot in the semifinals.
Five players scored in double-figures for USPF, with Lugie Cuyos scoring 20.
Lyndon Colina added 17, Rodelio Cauba had 15, Edwin Villarta pitched in 12 and Kenneth Cada tallied 11 to spark the Panthers.
The Panthers were up 10 in the fourth when the Warriors trimmed it down to 73-77 after a putback by Lucky Ecarma, time down to 2:45.
The Warriors pulled to within two, 81-83, after an uncontested lay-in by Ecarma, 23.3 ticks left.
It was then when things got heated as Villarta got fouled hard by Ecarma as he was going up for a basket. Villarta briefly scuffled with USC forward John Reel Saycon near USPF’s bench.
USC big men Kent Cabanog, Kenn Oguis, Malcolm Tan and Leo Labiste were caught leaving USC’s bench during the fracas and got ejected. All four will miss USC’s next game against the University of San Jose-Recoletos, leaving the Warriors with just one legitimate big man in Julius Cadavis.
Villarta and Cuyos and Mike Patalinghug made five straight free-throws to seal the win for the Panthers.
Ecarma and Saycon had 21 points each for USC, which dropped to 6-3.
USPF 88 — Cuyos 20, Colina 17, Cauba 15, Villarta 12, Cada 11, Mangyao 3, Alocillo 3, Patalinghug 2, Batac 2.
USC 81 — Saycon 21, Ecarma 21, Cabanog 9, Rabat 8, Araw-Araw 7, Cadavis 4, Oleodo 3, Aranas 3, Tan 2, Oguis 2, Marata 1.
Quarterscores: 21-20; 43-36; 65-55; 88-81.