The University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers completed their improbable comeback from a 0-2 series deficit to bag the Cesafi championship with a 64-62 win over the Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras in the deciding game on Thursday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
In a strange twist to one of the most exciting title series in league history, it was oft-ridiculed power forward Wowie Escosio who delivered the game-winner as he turned garbage to gold by scoring on a putback off a miss by import Mike Nzuesseu with 0.7 of a second remaining.
League MVP Mark Jayven Tallo then missed a long three-pointer at the final buzzer to seal the title for UV and gain revenge for their loss to the Cobras in last year’s championship series.
Often criticized for his abysmal free-throw shooting clip, the 6-foot-4 Escosio rose to the occasion and scored UV’s last 11 points to finish with 16 points and five rebounds.
With the game tied at 62-all with 7.2 seconds left, Nzuesseu drove hard down the lane but missed his layup but Escosio was there to snatch the offensive rebound and put it back in.
Mythical Five guard John Abad had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Nzuesseu finished with 11 markers for the Lancers, who became the first team in Cebu’s collegiate basketball history to come back from 0-2 down to bag the crown.
It was also their first title in three years after losing in the finals to the University of Cebu in 2010 and to SWU in 2012.
“We just wanted to take it one game at a time. I kept on telling my players that a true warrior battles until the last breath. Even when we were down 0-2, I just wanted the team to improve in every game,” said an ecstatic UV head coach Felix Belano.
The finale, though, nearly got shelved as the electronic shotclock and the scoreboard on UV’s side of the floor malfunctioned with less than five minutes to go in the first period. The Lancers initially refused to continue playing until it was fixed but gave in to the concession that it will be repaired at halftime.
However, things turned from bad to worse at the turn as both scoreboards and shot clocks conked out, leading Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama to announce that if it was not fixed in time, the game would have to be postponed.
However, fearing for the safety of the estimated 10,000-plus that attended the game, both UV and SWU agreed to continue the game with a bare solution – a mere whiteboard for a scoreboard with the shotclock and game clock being periodically announced by the coliseum barker.
Landry Sanjo led SWU with 21 points and 15 boards while Tallo had 12 but tallied just one dime. However, SWU sorely missed the offense of the team’s other Mythical Five member, Monbert Arong, who wound up with just four points.
UV (64) - Abad 18, Escosio 16, Nzuesseu 11, Akomo 7, F. Arong 5, Santillan 3, Codilla 2, Marquez 2, Perolino 0, Villamor 0, Fajardo 0.
SWU (62) - Sanjo 21, Tallo 12, Goloran 10, Bregondo 9, Mohammed 6, M. Arong 4, Panerio 0, Siewe 0, Bautista 0, Acuno 0.
Quarter Scores: 14-12, 28-29, 49-41, 64-62.