UNIVERSITY of the Visayas turned the tables on defending champion Southwestern University, sending the Cesafi basketball best-of-five finals series to a deciding match after a 71-66 Game Four victory on Tuesday at the Cebu Coliseum.
After trailing 0-2 in the series, the Lancers have pulled themselves together with a stirring 89-82 double-overtime win in Game Three and the gutsy Game Four victory to set another Game Five encounter between the two rival schools. UV and SWU also went the distance last year.
The Cobras trimmed an 18-point deficit to just three but wasted several chances to take control in the endgame and the Lancers held on for the win.
MVP Mark Jayven Tallo scored nine of his game-high 28 points in the fourth, including a lay-in that got the Cobras within five, 64-69, with 1:37 left to play. SWU’s Monbert Arong split his charities twice for a 66-69 count.
Adams Mohammed was fouled and was given two shots from the stripe with 21.2 on the clock but missed both. Still, the SWU retained possession as both teams were called for a lane violation on the free-throw attempt but the Cobras could not capitalize and threw the ball away on the inbound play as the ball got tipped and was caught by Abad, who sealed the win with two free-throws.
Game Five is set Thursday afternoon. No team has ever come back from a 0-2 deficit in the finals to win the Cesafi crown.
John Abad came up with 24 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals, Wowie Escosio added 14 points, while Franz Arong returned from his one-game suspension to score 11 for UV.
“We really want to fight until the end and play like there’s no tomorrow. I can see that the focus is really there for my players, which is how we made all those free-throws and outside shots. But still, we want to remain humble and come out fighting in Game Five,” said Lancers coach Felix Belano.
The Lancers had a torrid start, hitting five three-pointers in the first period for a 27-16 lead. With Abad scoring from all angles to tally 15 points in the first half, the Lancers seized a 43-29 lead at the break and extended it to 49-31 in the third.
SWU import Landry Sanjo played all 40 minutes and finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, while Daryl Goloran made 12 points.
UV (71) - Abad 24, Escosio 14, F. Arong 11, Nzuesseu 8, Codilla 5, Perolino 4, Santillan 3, Akomo 2, Villamor 0, Cabañero 0.
SWU (66) - Tallo 28, Sanjo 17, Goloran 12, M. Arong 7, Mohammed 2, Bregondo 0, Panerio 0, Bautista 0.
Quarterscores: 27-16; 43-29; 57-49; 71-66.