CEBU CITY – University of the Visayas uncorked a telling 16-2 endgame run to pull the rug from under University of San Jose-Recoletos, 89-82, in the 15th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament on Thursday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Lancers were down, 73-80, but certainly not out as they took advantage of the absence of Jaguars’ big men Kevin Villafranca, Edmundo Bayhonan, and Nelvin Navarra, who fouled out one after the other to author the incredible comeback in the final 1:38 of the match.
Cameroonian big man Steve Akomo sparked the comeback by scoring 11 of his 19 points during that stretch. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, had two steals, and blocked two shots.
Franz Arong added 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals, while former Batang Gilas member Leonard Santillan scored 16 markers.
UV improved to a 2-0 (win-loss) card for the early lead, while USJ-R fell to an even 1-1 card.
All appeared lost for the nine-time Cesafi champions as they trailed, 73-80, following a lay-up by USJ-R forward RJ Dinolan with 1:38 to go.
But the battle-hardened Lancers persevered and pulled to within three, 77-80, after a three-point play by Akomo and a free-throw by Arong.
USJ-R rookie guard Jaybie Mantilla tried to keep UV at bay with two free-throws, but Akomo once again scored inside and Arong followed it with a steal and lay-in to trim the deficit to 81-82 with 46.4 seconds left.
The Jaguars had a shot at extending the lead but former Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraw Ricky Peromingan missed two from the charity stripe.
Guard Alfred Codilla finally put UV in front, 84-82, after scoring on a coast-to-coast for an and-one play with 36 seconds to go.
Akomo, back on the roster after getting cut from the team last year, then swatted away Mantilla’s floater on the Jaguars’ next possession, leading to Codilla and Arong clinching the come-from-behind win for the Lancers.
USJ-R got 20 from Mantilla and 12 each from Dinolan and rookie wingman Miguel Gastador.
The loss put to naught the courageous efforts of Mantilla, Gastador and Peromingan, who fuelled USJ-R’s attack at the start of the final frame to give the Jaguars the lead after trailing by as much as 39-50, in the third period.
In the juniors division, Marc Roa scored 21 points and grabbed 15 boards to lead the Cebu Eastern College Dragons past the University of Southern Philippines Foundation Baby Panthers, 59-49.
CEC (59) -- M. Roa 21, Tempra 9, A. Roa 8, Galarse 8, Tecson 6, Sullano 2, M. Casio 2, Orillaneda 2, Astillero 1, Tiu 0, Canoy 0, Leopoldo 0.
USPF (43) -- Ybañez 10, Obenza 9, Peligrino 8, Archival 8, Fermin 3, Sandoval 2, Justol 2, Macalam 1, Hernando 0, Cometa 0, Lequin 0, Tajo 0, Soon 0, Laudehr 0, Urot 0.
Quarterscores: 16-11; 31-13; 47-28; 59-43.
UV (89) -- Akomo 19, Arong 17, Santillan 16, Aguirre 9, Codilla 8, Balabag 5, Suerte 4, Segumpan 3, Mendoza 3, Napao 3, Manzo 0, Cabañero 0.
USJ-R (82) -- Mantilla 20, Dinolan 12, Gastador 12, Navarra 9, Labares 7, Villafranca 6, Peromingan 6, Risma 5, Bayhonan 4, Senining 3, Moral 0.
Quarterscores: 22-11; 44-37; 55-55; 89-82.