CEBU CITY - The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat the resilient University of the Visayas Baby Lancers, 66-61, and win the title in the Cebu National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) on Sunday at the Hoopsdome in Lapu-Lapu City.
In a fitting finale to what has been a colorful and controversial best-of-three showdown that went the distance, the two bitter rivals put on a back-and-forth contest that featured tons of action.
In the end though, it was the Magis Eagles’ championship mettle that made the difference as Errol Pastor, Patrick Yu and Travis Mantua scored one clutch point after another to finally vanquish the hard-fighting Baby Lancers.
Mantua led the Magis Eagles with 19 points, Pastor had 10 while Alex Visser and Andrew Velasco, who was named as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, combined for 17 markers.
Drawing inspiration from their banished teammate, Justin Jake Rosete, the Baby Lancers came out swinging and established several 11-points leads, the last at 29-18.
However, Ateneo de Cebu slowly chipped away at the deficit and were within one, 58-57, 3:55 left in the match.
Pastor then tied the game with a free-throw before Yu put the Eagles in the driver’s seat with a three-pointer from the corner, 2:55 left. Two free-throws by Mantua upped their lead to 63-58, nearly two minutes remaining.
UV’s last gasp came off a three-pointer by Froiland Maglasang that trimmed the deficit to two, 61-63, but UV guard Beirn Laurente threw an errant pass that got picked off by Yu which led to a transition layup by Mantua for a 65-61 lead, time down to 19 seconds.
UV had chances to come closer but couldn’t connect on any of their attempts and Jeremy Nacua sealed the victory with a free-throw after Laurente was called for an unsportsmanlike foul as he was trying to stop Mantua from leaking out in transition with just four ticks left on the clock.
Laurente led UV with 22 points while Jhiey Paraldo chipped in 10. However, the Baby Lancers got just nine from star forward Jancork Cabahug, who was swarmed by Ateneo de Cebu’s defense all game long.