CITY OF BOGO, Cebu, Philippines – the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magi’s Eagles proved its mastery over the competition as they avoided complications to defeat the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers 86-76, en route to winning the Don Celestino Martinez Sr. CESAFI Pre-Season Junior Division tournament title last Saturday evening.
Earlier, the University of Cebu Baby Webmasters avoided an end game collapse to deal with the home squad City of Bogo Science and Arts Academy Trailblazers for an 87-69 win in the game for third place.
The final games came as an anti-climactic as the tournament was supposed to last until this weekend.
However, the unexpected withdrawal of the University of San Carlos Baby Warriors compelled the organizers to forgo with the non-bearing final elimination round schedule, which will feature the same teams pitting against each other.
SHS-AdC and UV won their previous two games against UC and CBSAA each last week.
“We just forgo with the non-bearing elimination round game and went directly to the championship game. Unfortunately, USC pulled out, so the decision must be made whether do the championship or play the final elimination round games that has no bearing. And we decided to do the finals,” said former Bogo City mayor and the city’s foremost sports patron Junie Martinez.
It was a tall order for UV who had to contend against the well-oiled and taller Magis Eagles.
SHS-AdC gained control of the game from the opening jump with UV working doubly hard to keep the Magis Eagles within the sight.
After a close encounter in the opening half, the Magis Eagles slowly built a double-digit lead and threatened to pull away for good with a 28-24 work in the third period that put them ahead 71-60, going into the final frame.
But even if the Ateneo de Cebu was in control of the game, Magis Eagles coach Rommel Rasmo was wary of what the Baby Lancers can do in the game.
“We all know how tenacious UV was. Despite our advantage (in the shaded lane), they still gave us a tough fight. We were up by 14 yet, they quickly chipped it down to four. Luckily, we managed to stay focus down the stretch and win the game,” Rasmo continued.
SHS-AdC lead 24-19 after the first period but UV did not allow them to swell as they managed to match the production of the opponents as the first half ended on a 43-36 note.
Michael Asoro then went on a shooting rampage. Drilling three triples of his 11 points helped by the timely baskets of Josh Go, Jelomar Rota and Froilan Maglasang that kept UV behind despite the huge offensive flares of Ryan Sinoy, Marvin Ravelo, Franco Gabunada and Khian Panerio.
But with UV’s defense clamping down on Asoro in the final period, the Magis Eagles needed the mid-range jumpers of Rota and the baskets of the towering Ramon Salvoro and the steady hands of Jarred Bahay at the free throw line to survive the endgame rampage of the Baby Lancers.
“It’s more on the combination of players that we worked on in the fourth quarter. I was looking for the right combination since this is the first time that the team played as a whole. We missed Salvoro for a month and Jarred (Bahay) for three months because of their Batang Gilas duties. UV really gave us a good fight, luckily for us, we controlled the game early that’s why when the game went tough, we managed to survive (against) the resilience of UV,” added Rasmo.
The Magis Eagles made a total of 34 shots out of 72 attempts, although they struggled at the free throw line (14-of-37) – the seven they made in the fourth helped them keep the Baby Lancers at bay.
Asoro finished with 17 points despite being held scoreless in the fourth, went with eight rebounds for the Magis Eagles. SHS-AdC also got 17 points coupled with eight rebounds and four blocks from the 6-foot-7 Salvoro, a double-double game of 16 points and 12 rebounds from Rota and an all-around 10 points, six rounds and six assists from Bahay.
Sinoy topscored for UV with 17 points while Nathan Dela Torre contributed with 16 points and Ravelo finished with 12 points. (RCA)
SHS-AdC (86) – Asoro 17, Salvoro 17, Rota 16, Bahay 10, Go 9, Yu 5, Maglasang 4, Dosayla 2, Cainglet 2, Cuyos 2, Arradaza 1, Baxter 1. UV (76) – Sinoy 17, Dela Torre 16, Ravelo 12, Ampong 9, Magsalang 6, Paca 5, Panerio 5, Abella 2, Mahumot 2. Quarterscores: 24-19; 43-36; 71-60; 86-76.