CEBU CITY – The University of San Carlos Warriors and the Mapua Cardinals set up a finals showdown after disposing of their respective semifinal opponents in the Cebu City Mayors Cup Invitational Basketball Tournament on Monday night at the USC Gym.
The Warriors leaned on their height advantage to put down the hard-fighting University of Cebu Webmasters, 86-72 while the Cardinals buckled down on defense in the fourth period to beat the Malaysian national team, 67-56.
USC and Mapua duke it out for all the marbles on Tuesday night with the former looking for revenge after suffering a 55-77 beatdown at the hands of the Cardinals early in the tournament.
Ahead by just two, 54-52, at the end of the third frame, the Cardinals of head coach and PBA legend Atoy Co ratcheted up their defensive pressure and held Malaysia to a mere four points in the final frame to come away with the crucial win.
The Warriors broke away from the Webmasters in the third canto with a huge 17-2 blast that gave them a 63-49 cushion. Anchoring that run was import Shooster Olago who tallied 14 of his 33 markers in that stretch.
But the Webmasters came roaring back behind a full-court press that tightened up the court for USC’s guards and forced several turnovers converted into points by UC’s promising rookie Shane Menina, whose triple pulled UC to within six, 72-78, 1:20 to go.
But USC closed out the game with big baskets from Kiefer Lim, Ian Tagapan and Victor Rabat.
Former Mapua Cardinal Nico Magat added 13 points while starting power forward Charles Pepito chipped in 12.
Menina was the lone bright spot on offense for UC with 28 points, 17 of which came in the penultimate frame.
USC (86) - Olago 35, Magat 13, Pepito 12, Rabat 9, Lim 6, Tagapan 5, McAloney 3, Ortega 2, Bensig 1, Laguyo 0, Maconocido 0.
UC (72) - Menina 28, Suelto 9, Culango 8, Montilla 7, Tagudin 7, Bacatan 3, Mayol 3, Puerto 3, Santander 2, Jabello 2, Obado 0, Villarta 0, Codilla 0, Butohan 0, Dacalos 0.
Quarterscores: 18-16; 38-36; 63-49; 86-72.