BAYUGAN City, Agusan del Sur – Cebuano pivot Barkley Ebona scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the ARQ Builders/FEU Tamaraws survive the Mair Construction/UC Webmasters, 82-77 in the opening day of the cash-rich Mayor Kim Lope A. Asis Mayor’s Cup Invitational Basketball Tournament at the Lope Asis Memorial Gymnasium, here.
It was a contrasting result for the CESAFI member schools as the Vincare Phama-backed SWU-Phinma Cobras had its own share of scary moments before shooting down the hard fighting HMMED Enterprise/Cagayan de Oro City Selection, 71-66 in the morning game.
Ebona, a former member of the CIT-U Wildkittens squad scored the first 11 points for FEU in the final period before the other Tamaraw players find their marks to completely outmaneuver the Webmasters.
Playing with size and height disadvantage, UC was able to give the Tamaraws some tough time despite trailing by as much as 11 points twice in the third period.
After a tentative start, FEU established control of the game in the middle of the first quarter following an 8-2 run that made an 8-all deadlock to an 18-10 advantage in a span of two minutes and 13 seconds. UC however, capitalized the early entry of the Tams in penalty situation to pull within 16-22 at the close of the first quarter.
Shane Menina and Tristan Albina then connected a triple each and Mohammed Tosh Sesay scored five points that gave UC back the lead at 27-25 at the 5:53 mark.
Two deadlocks and three lead changes ensued on the next five minutes and 53 seconds as the score settled at 37-36 in favor for FEU to close the first half of the game.
The Tamaraws then opened the third period with a 13-3 blast as they notched its biggest lead at 50-39. The other 11-point lead was at 52-41 at the 5:58 mark.
However, UC regrouped after John Jabello connected a triple followed by Menina’s own scoring spurt of 12 as the Webmasters regained the upper hand 56-54 with 2:51 to play in the third before it closed at 59-all.
But despite Ebona’s scoring spree down low early in the fourth, the game was still close with UC getting its last taste at the lead in the final 5:16 of the game on Kirby Bersaluna’s jumper.
FEU made it 74-69 at the 3:02 mark but UC managed to even the game at 74-all on Albina’s triple 51 seconds later, before the Tams dropped a telling 6-0 run that towed the UAAP squad on a safer shore, 80-74 at the final 44.66 seconds.
Albina sank a triple as UC’s final push to change the complex of the game, but Menina bungled two charity shots that could have put more pressure on the Tamaraws.
Wendel Comboy added 11 points and LJ Gonzales contributed 10 points for the Tamaraws while Jabello and Menina each had 19 points, Albina made 15 and Sesay finished with 10 markers for the Webmasters.
Meanwhile, Shaquille Imperial fired 17 points, Lamine Thiam made 15 points, William Polican scattered 12 and Gerald Fernandez finished with 10 markers as the Cobras lofted the first win of the tournament.
For the CdeO Selection, Marlon Daitol scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, LS Aquino made 15 points and Kent Macapayad logged 13 points.
Vincare Pharma/SWU-Phinma (71) – Imperial 17, Thiam 15, Polican 12, Fernandez 10, Cachuela 6, Evardo 4, Roncal 2, Boc 2, Bilao 2. HMMED Enterprise/CdeO (66) – Daitol 19, Aquino 15, Macapayad 13, Solaiman 6, Akut 4, Custan 4, Ebrahim 3, Maher 2.
Quarterscores: 25-12; 41-30; 46-46; 71-66.
ARQ Buuilders/FEU (82) – Ebona 25, Comboy 11, Gonzales 10, Cani 7, Ojoula 7, Stockton 6, Tchuente 6, Alforque 4, Bayquin 2, Tempra 2, Bienes 2. Mair Construction/UC (77) – Jabello 19, Menina 19, Albina 15, Sesay 10, Galinato 6, Zerda 2, Bersaluna 2, Gabisan 1, Gravera 1, Ordeniza 1. Quarterscores: 22-16; 37-36; 59-59; 82-77./RCM