UNIVERSITY of the Visayas and Cebu Institute of Technology took a step closer towards forging a title rematch after beating their respective opponents at the start of the semifinals of the Enervon-Cesafi Partner’s Cup Tuesday night at the Cebu Coliseum.
The UV Lancers, the reigning champions, whipped the University of San Carlos Warriors, 73-57, while last year’s runners-up Wildcats defeated the University of Cebu Webmasters, 101-79, in a match marred by several scuffles.
The semifinal round is a single round-robin affair with the top two squads earning berths to the championship series. It started off on a fierce note as tensions flared between the Wildcats and the Webmasters as early as the second period with a fight between UC’s Johnny Sigasig and CIT’s Nino Batiquin breaking out after a looseball scramble.
Late in the game, UC’s African import Arnaud Noah was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on CIT’s Floyd Taboada and was ejected from the match.
With just 21.6 seconds remaining in the game, Noah hurled himself at a dribbling Taboada, the latter being hit in the face. The CIT bench howled in protest and surged at the repentant Noah that triggered a near riot that also included fans from the Wildcats' side.
Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and the game ended peacefully. However, Noah's ejection was a costly one as he will need to sit out the next game.
The Wildcats gained control early on as they sped off to a 53-33 lead at halftime behind the combined efforts of Allen Dimco, Vincent Menguito and Joshua dela Cerna, who did the damage inside while Taboada took care of the outside sniping. But the Webmasters came back and sliced the deficit to just six, 60-66, after a fastbreak pull-up three-pointer by Kido Cabrera with 2:06 left in the third. CIT-U, though, brought a 78-67 lead to the fourth stanza after consecutive three-point plays by Dela Cerna and Dimco.
Menguito scored 26 to lead San Marino while Dela Cerna had 19. Taboada and Dimco each added 18 points.
Noah paced Gaisano with 24 markers.