CEBU CITY – University of Southern Philippines Foundation escaped with a 62-59 win over Southwestern University in the 2018 Cesafi basketball tournament on Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Panthers flirted with disaster in the endgame, nearly blowing a 12-point lead in the final three minutes.
USPF was in firm control, taking a 59-47 advantage after a midrange jumper by Nigerian center Richy Managor and a layup by RR Cauba.
But the Cobras fought back and pulled to within three, 59-62, with just 11 seconds to go behind the torrid scoring of Shaquille Imperial and Cagayan de Oro-recruit Red Cachuela.
A botched inbound pass by USPF was scooped up by Imperial who found a wide-open Reeve Ugsang in the left corner. But the sweet-shooting big man couldn’t convert the potential equalizing triple at the final buzzer, much to the relief of the Panthers.
Managor led the Panthers with 13 points while Cauba scored 11.
USPF’s new head coach Brian Jereza said it was a huge opening win despite the slim advantage.
“We’re done with the first game jitters. But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to practice even more as we have a lot to improve on,” said Jereza.
SWU-Phinma got 28 points from Imperial and 19 from Cachuela. Only five players scored for the maroon and white. The Cobras fell to 1-1 for the season.