CEBU CITY – The Southwestern University Cobras still lacked the venom but still managed to nab their first win of the season, 74-69, over the University of Southern Philippines Foundation Panthers in the 12th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum.
The team deemed to be virtually untouchable once again struggled early as they fell behind by as much as 18 points in the first period, 3-21. It was the second bad start in a row for the Cobras, which fell behind 2-13, against the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars on their debut which they eventually lost, 72-80.
However, SWU managed to find their bearings in time, thanks to the play of their hulking Cameroonian players Ben Mbala and Justin Aboude. Mbala attacked relentlessly and managed to get 15 of his 21 points from the charity stripe and added nine rebounds and three blocks.
More impressively, he provided the game’s most explosive highlight in the third period when he leapt over USPF forward, Lawrence Escanilla , and slammed home a vicious slam dunk off a pass from guard Ben Ortuyo.
Aboude had a quiet 11 points and eight boards but anchored the defense with five blocked shots.
SWU appeared to have the game in hand as they led, 64-53, after a short jumper and a three from lefty guard, Monbert Arong, with 7:23 remaining. USPF, though, did not back down and clawed back to within three, 68-71, after three straight free throws by center Jose Sollano.
The Cobras finally slammed the door shut on USPF after an undergoal stab by Bernie Brigondo and a free throw by Jestoni Casquejo, who had a breakout game in the absence of starting wingman Bon Guillena by scoring 12 points.
USPF fell to their third straight defeat. They were led by Joseph Sedurifa’s 11 and Earvin Ferraren’s 10 markers.