CEBU CITY – In a bitter end to a difficult season, the University of the Visayas Green Lancers fell apart then fought among themselves near the end of a 61-67 loss to the University of San Carlos Warriors in the semifinals of the Cesafi men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Cebu Coliseum.
With team morale brittle after 4-6 (win-loss) stint in the elims that was just enough to get them to the playoffs as the fourth seed, the defending champions just could not overcome Shooster Olago and the Warriors who advanced to the finals for the first time in seven years.
Olago led all scorers with 24 points and added 13 rebounds and three blocked shots in a game that took a strange turn with 35 seconds left when Green Lancers two-guard Franz Arong and Nigerian Jeffakins Aguara got into a shoving match and nearly slugged it out on center court.
USC was ahead by only a basket, 57-55, when forward Christian Laude sank consecutive baskets while Olago turned a bad pass by UV forward Rhaffy Octobre into another basket for a 63-55 lead as he overpowered Aguara at the post and dropped in a layup with 1:18 remaining.
Aguara tried to retaliate but instead got stripped by Olago who cruised for a dunk at the other end as Aguara stopped playing defense and merely stepped aside.
That irked Arong who shoved Aguara and confronted his teammate. Things quickly escalated as both players took combative stances and had to be restrained from going after each other - a lasting image to what had been a chaotic title defense for the Green Lancers.
USC will now wait for the winner of the semifinal match-up between Southwestern University and the University of San Jose-Recoletos which will be played on Thursday.
Game One of the best-of-five finals will be played on October 12.
UV’s veteran guard John Abad scored 23 points before fouling out with 3:29 left.
In the juniors division, the Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildkittens nabbed a seat in the double round-robin semifinals after creaming the University of Cebu Baby Webmasters, 78-67. Joshua Manatad scored all 22 of his points in the first half while Justin Jules Langres pitched in 19.
USC (67) - Olago 24, Pepito 9, Laude 7, Bensig 6, Rabat 5, Magat 5, Laguyo 5, Toyambi 4, Malana 2, Lim 0, Asuncion 0, Tagapan 0, Adlawan 0, Ecarma 0.
UV (61) - Abad 23, Octobre 8, Santillan 7, Codilla 6, Aguara 6, Perolino 3, Arong 2, Aguirre 2, Manzo 2, Oche 0, Marquez 0.
Quarterscores: 15-11, 27-24, 45-44, 67-61.
CIT-U (78) - Manatad 22, Langres 19, Berezo 15, Plaza 10, Pedrosa 5, Abinuman 4, Faunillan 2, Tabada 1, Hapin 0, Cortes 0, Gotardo 0.
UC (67) - Menina 25, Quiamco 11, Isla 10, Dungog 6, Gabisan 6, Daligdig 3, Abejo 2, Canonigo 2, Dela Rama 2, Molina 0, Ramas 0, Hemida 0, Ubas 0, Soco 0, Carpio 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20, 42-34, 71-50, 78-67.