CEBU – University of the Visayas endured an endgame blunder to escape with a gritty 69-65 win over Southwestern University in Game Three of the 12th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) Finals on Monday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
Eman Calo showed the way with 14 points, 12 of them came in the second period, while Jerome Silva added 13, and Phil Mercader and Steve Akomo had 10 each for the Green Lancers, now moved within a win of regaining the championship as they lead the best-of-five series, 2-1.
For a while, the Lancers teetered on the verge of collapse with 17.4 seconds left.
Protecting a slim 68-65 lead, Akomo was whistled for a loose ball foul, which he made worse later on after a technical foul was also called on him for excessive complaining for an automatic four free throws plus ball possession for the Cobras.
Unfortunately, pressure got the better of Junrey Ortuyo and Justin Aboude, who both missed all free throws awarded to SWU.
Still, the Cobras had another chance at a game-tying basket, only for wingman Bon Guillena’s three-point attempt to be deflected by the Lancers with time running down.
Silva grabbed the loose ball with two seconds left, was fouled, and then split his free throws to clinch the win for UV.
The Lancers now seek their 10th league title, and their first over the last three years, in Game Four.
Silva and Akomo engineered an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter as the Lancers completed their fightback from 11 points down to grab the upperhand, 55-50.
The Cobras came within 65-66 on a nifty drive by Joseph Nalos and a transition lay-up by Bernie Bregondo.
But Ben Mbala was assessed his fifth and final foul, which Akomo converted into two free throws to stretch UV’s lead to 68-65 in the final minutes of the game.
The Cobras actually, had no one to blame but themselves as they committed a total of 27 turnovers and missed 15 free throws – the last four of which obviously cost them the game.
Mythical team member Justin Aboude fired 16 points to pace SWU. Monbert Arong, who exploded for 28 points in Game Two, played under the weather and ended up scoreless.