By Mikey Izumi
CEBU CITY – Using a 9-man rotation, the defending champions Southwestern University Cobras turned back the challenge of the returning University of Southern Philippines Foundation Panthers in a huge fourth-quarter run en route to a 86-76 victory in a thrilling match in the 15th season of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. basketball tournament last Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
The Cobras had to overcome the pressure defense of the Albert Alocillo-coached, who banked on their 3-point shooting to keep the game close and were even just one point behind at halftime, 42-41.
After six lead changes in the third period, the boys of Coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba showed their veteran smarts and championship experience and poise, anchored on the trio of reigning MVP Mark Jayven Tallo, Anton Pardo and rookie Fil-Samoan Jesse “Juju” Bautista to grab the lead at the end of the third, 63-60.
USPF kept the game close in the fourth period with three 3-pointers by Karl Langahin and Kimo Bajamunde, but SWU’s Bautista sealed the game for the Cobras as he finished off the Panthers with an offensive rebound and a putback to give the Cobras a 90-81 lead, with 1:45 left in the game en route to their second win of the season.
Bautista’s superb all-round game in which he scored 27 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and converted 15 of 17 free throws earned for him the Best Player of the Game accolade from Viva Sports TV panelists Rico Navarro and Sandi Grumo.
Pardo added 21 points and four rebounds; while Tallo recorded a near triple-double with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Panthers, who suffered their third straight setback, were led by Bajamunde with 15 points and three rebounds, while Brantford Borces and Mhike Patalinghug scored 14 and 12 points respectively.
In the juniors’ division, the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers cruised to an easy victory over the Don Bosco Technology Center Greywolves, 76-37 for their 2nd win in three outings. The Greywolves suffered their third straight loss of the season.