SOUTHWESTERN University became just the second squad from outside Manila to advance to the finals of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League after outplaying Far Eastern University, 86-71, in the semifinals on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Showing character against a quality UAAP side, the Cebu-based Cobras bounced back from a blowout loss against San Beda on Tuesday to finish the single-round Final Four with a 2-1 win-loss card.
The Southern Islands champions now face the survivor of the other match pitting UAAP champion La Salle and NCAA titlist San Beda being played at posting time.
“We’re proud to represent not only Southwestern, but the whole of Visayas and Mindanao,” said Cobras coach Yayoy Alcoseba, whose team followed in the footsteps of University of Visayas, the first provincial team to qualify to the finals in 2007 when the Greg Slaughter-led Lancers lost to Ateneo.
Lefty guard Monbert Arong showed the way for the Cobras with 23 points, seven boards, five assists, and two steals, while backcourt partner Mark Tallo posted another strong all-around performance of 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and one block.
African slotman Landry Sanjo was solid as usual, putting up a double-double of 19 points and 15 boards, along with three blocks, and two assists.
Trailing at the end of the first quarter, the Cobras broke the game wide open in the second quarter where they outscored the Tamaraws, 29-11, to build a commanding 16-point lead at halftime.
They maintained a double-digit cushion, before the Tamaraws threatened early in the fourth with nine unanswered points that cut the deficit to just 59-67 with six minutes and 58 seconds left.
But Arong, who scored a measly two points against San Beda, bunched together five straight points as the Cobras regained their comfortable margin.
“I told my players to hold on and stay composed. And they delivered, finished the game and won,” Alcoseba said.
SWU (86) – Arong 23, Sanjo 19, Tallo 16, Mohammed 15, Holper 5, Goloran 4, Bautista 4, Siewe 0, Panerio 0
FEU (71) – Mendoza 16, Cruz 15, Tolomia 14, Hargrove 10, Inigo 7, Pogoy 4, Jose 4, Dennison 1, Luz 0, Lee Yu 0, Aguilon 0, Sentcheu 0
Quarterscores: 14-16, 43-27, 65-50, 86-71