CEBU CITY — Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu stunned heavily-favored University of San Carlos, 81-74, on Sunday to claim the Passerelle title of the Cebu leg of the BEST Center Tournament at the Cebu City Sports Institute.
Coco Tuadles led the Magis Eagles to the improbable win over a dominant Baby Warriors squad that demolished its opponents by an average of 31 points.
Michael Cutamora scored 10 of his 16 points in the final frame, while John Aguilar scored on a free-throw and a crucial basket in the final seconds that sealed the title for Ateneo de Cebu.
USC actually got off to a fine start and led 22-20, despite two early fouls called on 6-foot-3 15-year old Briedyn Smith.
But SHS found its groove and scored 11 unanswered points behind the perimeter sniping of Lowell Chan and Andre Chua to take a 37-32 lead at halftime.
The Eagles continued their stellar play and pushed their lead to 48-36, after a transition layup by Tuadles that came off a gorgeous behind-the-back pass by Romeo Jabalon.
However, USC trailed by just seven, 51-58, going to the last canto. The Baby Warriors eventually reclaimed the lead, 67-66, after a putback by King Balaga, 4:35 to go.
SHS answered right back with a hook shot by Cutamora, a midrange jumper by Tuadles, a keyhole floater by Aguilar and a three-point play by Cutamora that gave the boys in blue a 75-67 lead, exactly two minutes remaining.
SHS earned the right to represent Cebu in the regional finals of the Milo-backed tournament in November in Bacolod City.
Rodriguez and Pakanna led USC with 15 each. Neon Chavez added 10 while Smith was held down to just nine.
The third place trophy was won by the University of the Visayas with a 60-56 win over the Cebu Eastern College.
SHS-Ateneo (81) - Tualdes 17, Cutamora 16, Chua 6, Chan 6, Aguilar 6, Jordan 5, Canoy 4, Jabalon 4, Espina 4, Mesina 3, Largo 3, Casinillo 3, Dy 2, Dumandan 2.
USC (74) - Pakanna 15, Rodriguez 15, Chavez 10, Smith 9, Tagalog 9, Mendoza 5, Razo 4, Berdin 3, Balaga 2, Barola 1, Dadang 1, Felicitas 1.