CEBU CITY - The University of the Visayas Baby Lancers rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit to stun the heavily-favored Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles, 82-80, and take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three finals series of the 2017 SM-National Basketball Training Center Cebu Tournament on Saturday at the Capitol Parish Gym.
Still down by 11 in the fourth, the Baby Lancers buckled down on defense and went to star forward Jancork Cabahug down the stretch to eke out the victory and come within a victory away from putting an end to the six-year dominance of the Magis Eagles of this tournament.
Cabahug finished with 26 points, nine in the fourth period including a gorgeous spinning lay-up that put them up, 81-78, with less than two minutes left in the contest after falling behind, 66-77.
JJ Rosete added 12 while Beirn Laurente chipped in 10 in the hotly contested match.
“I didn’t have any special instructions for the boys. I just told them to buckle down on defense. I even gave them free reign on offense, so long as they worked hard on the other side of the floor,” said UV head coach Jun Pepito.
The Magis Eagles were rolling behind the hot shooting of Andrew Velasco, who scored seven straight to put them up, 56-37. However, disaster struck as Velasco fell hard on a layup attempt and suffered a deep gash on his chin and was not able to return to the match.
UV quickly took advantage as they chopped the deficit down to six, 62-68, heading to the final stanza.
The Magis Eagles stemmed the tide, thanks to the contributions of little-used John Benedict Yu, who pumped in seven straight points to give them a 77-66 advantage. But the Baby Lancers fired 11 unanswered points to tie the match at 77-all, 3:09 left.
Jeremy Nacua gave Ateneo de Cebu its last taste of the lead with a free-throw but Jhiey Paraldo put UV ahead, 79-78, with a bucket off a hard drive along the baseline.
Cabahug then padded their lead to three, 81-78, with a foray down the middle that saw him shed his defender with a nifty spin move before banking the ball in.
Ateneo de Cebu had several chances to come closer but Colonia missed four straight freethrows before finally making two to pull them within one, 80-81, time down to 42.7 ticks. They even had a shot at regaining the lead but Errol Pastor mistimed his outlet pass which got picked off, leading to a freethrow by UV’s Froiland Maglasang for an 82-80 Baby Lancer lead, 15.3 seconds to go.
The Magis Eagles final possession netted them two freethrows as big man Alex Visser was fouled on his putback attempt with just 1.4 seconds remaining. However, Visser cracked under pressure and missed both as time expired, handing UV the morale-boosting win.
However, tempers flared even after the match as a commotion broke out during the traditional congratulatory rounds as Ateneo de Cebu alleged that Laurente puched Renzo Calumpang in the stomach. Cooler heads, though, prevailed,
Velasco paced Ateneo de Cebu with 26 while Travis Mantua notched 13 points. Nacua had 10.