FOR longtime Cebu rivals Southwestern University and University of Visayas, it didn't matter that it was merely a preseason game. Or that nothing much was at stake.
Every game will be as fiercely fought as a championship match.
The SWU Cobras beat the UV Lancers, 69-60, on the final day of the Mayor Mike Rama Collegiate Invitational tournament on Sunday in a match that was so heated it was marked by two ejections and four unsportsmanlike fouls, the last one nearly triggering a melee at the Cebu Coliseum.
Interestingly, the two rivals were only fighting for the second-place trophy as the championship had already been won by Far Eastern University, which completed a three-game sweep of the pocket tournament with an 85-79 win over Mapua earlier on Sunday.
UV’s Chris Perolino was the first to be ejected for throwing a punch at SWU’s Melvin Goloran just four minutes after tip-off. Two minutes later, Goloran was sent to the showers after he was assessed a disqualifying foul for punching Ralf Octobre.
SWU gained headway in the final period behind the energetic play of African import Landry Sanjo, who anchored a brief rally for a 55-48 lead.
UV remained within striking distance, 57-62, but former La Salle Green Archer Mark Jayven Tallo found a cutting Melvin Holper along the baseline for a lay-up. Tallo later found an open Monbert Arong, who hit a three-pointer for a 67-58 lead with 1:32 remaining.
But the fireworks did not end there as UV’s Franz Arong hit his SWU namesake in the head with 27.4 seconds left, nearly triggering a melee.
Sanjo scored 18 points, Fil-Canadian guard Adam Mohammed added 15, and Arong finished with 11.
UV got 25 from reinforcement Mike Harry and 14 from Partner’s Cup MVP John Abad.
Meanwhile, FEU weathered a furious comeback by the Cardinals to complete a sweep of the tournament.
The game was tied for the last time at 68-all behind a huge Mapua fightback led by Kenneth Ighalo and Mark Brana. But FEU did not flinch and finished the Cardinals off with a 17-6 blast.
Mike Tolomia led FEU with 17 while RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo had 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Ighalo had 19 points, while Brana added 17 for Mapua, which finished the tournament winless.