CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras and the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles are closer to regaining their lost Cebu Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) basketball titles following their respective thrilling victories in the Games 1 of the Best-of-3 Championship series at the Cebu Coliseum Monday evening, Nov. 18, 2019.
Shaquille Imperial scattered four rainbow shots including a clutch triple in the final 58 seconds that helped the Cobras beat the defending champions University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers, 70-66, in the Collegiate Division Series while Leobert Andrew Casinillo registered 12 of his game high 28 points in the final period to lead the Magis Eagles to a 74-69 win over the Juniors Division title holders University of Cebu Baby Webmasters.
The Cobras last won the College title in 2014 while the Magis Eagles last hold of the High School diadem in 2016 Season.
The last time SWU and UV met in the Finals was in 2014 when the Ben Mbala and Mac-Mac Tallo-led Cobras gobbled down the Donbel Belano-mentored Green Lancers in Game 5.
The Eagles on the other hand hopes to rekindle its mastery over the Baby Webmasters whom they defeated both in 2015 and 2016 Finals.
The titles are up for grab on Thursday, both reigning champions are expected to give the challengers a tough game to live for another day.
SWU started on target as Rondyll Roncal opened the game with a booming triple from the left corner as the Cobras set the tone of the match early.
UV rallied and took a brief look at the lead 15-12 nearing the end of the first quarter before the SWU Senegalese center Lamine Thiam evened the game at 15-all with a conventional 3-point play to end the first quarter.
Thiam continued to display strong games and Imperial slowly made his presence felt by connecting his first two triples that helped the Cobras outscore UV 23-16, for a 38-31 lead at the halftime break.
The Green Lancers tried to do counter runs on the third but SWU did just enough to stay afloat before Imperial regained his shooting touch in the final frame to frustrate the defending champions.
Rookie guard Gab Cometa put UV within a point 63-64, a minute and 48 seconds remaining, with four straight points. But SWU was determined to win the series opener as Thiam connected a jumper from the top of the key and Imperial nailed the booming trey from the right corner, shortly after Geleant Delator missed a point-blank attempt at the other end.
Coach Gary Cortes sued for his final time and sent back Froiland Maglasang who responded with a quick triple that tapered the gap to three, 66-69. UV’s tough defense at the other end forced Cachuela to miss a basket aand Ivorian center Lass Coulibally cleared the rebound for UV. However, Coulibally’s lob pass to a streaking teammate was intercepted by SWU, blowing the hopes of the four-feat seeking Green Lancers into oblivion, as William Polican split his charities for SWU for the final score.
Thiam dropped a double-double performance as he scattered 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds on top of 4 assists and 4 steals, Imperial finished with 14 points, Red Cachuela scored 13 and Polican made 11 for SWU while Cometa scored the game high 17 points, Sheldon Gahi added 12 and Coulibally scored 10 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four blocks.
What were missing on UV’s side were the usual huge contributions of Jancork Cabahug and Monic Soliva who both finished with only seven points each. Cabahug went 3-of-10 while Soliva made 3-of-6 clip.
SWU also showed they were the better passing team as they dropped 14 dimes to UV’s only 6. The Cobras also forced the Green Lancers to commit 22 turnovers against their 17.
Meanwhile, the Baby Webmasters were leading 19-13 early in the second when the Magis Eagles dropped a quick 15-0 run, to lead 28-19, and hang tough when UC had sporadic attempts to regain control of the match.
UC was almost successful if not for Casinillo who sank back-to-back triples that dosed cold water on the fire that was built by Isaiah Blanco for the Baby Webmasters.
Mike Boniel was the other SHS-AdC player to score in double digit with 13 points, while Blanco topscored for UC with 19 points, Maczi Micutuan added 14 and Daniel Lapiz added 12 points.
Tonight, Nov. 19, 2019, the scheduled knockout games for third place between the USPF Baby Panthers and the UV Baby Lancers in the Juniors Division will be played at 6:45 PM while the USC Warriors vs. UC Webmasters game for College 3rd place game will follow shortly. RCM
SHS-AdC (74) – Casinillo 28, Boniel 13, Celis 8, Dinglasan 6, Narbasa 6, Villamayor 3, Aguilar 3, Maglasang 3, Dadang 2, Jabalon 2. UC (69) – Blanco 19, Micutuan 14, Lapiz 12, Sevellejo 7, Leonard 6, Pondoc 4, Balaga 4, Enriquez 2.
Quarterscores: 13-17; 36-31; 56-48; 74-79.
SWU (70) – Thiam 16, Imperial 14, Cachuela 13, Polican 11, Roncal 9, Sanchez 5, Evardo 2. UV (66) – Cometa 17, Gahi 12, Coulibally 10, Cabahug 7, Soliva 7, Maglasang 7, Maestre 4, Delator 2.
Quarterscores: 15-15; 38-31; 50-46; 70-66