USC Warriors overcome CIT-U Wildcats in Cesafi Season 22

The University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors showcased incredible perseverance as they overcame a 10-point fourth-period deficit to take down the Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildcats in overtime, 79-70, in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) Season 22 collegiate basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Cebu Coliseum.

The victory — which pushed the Warriors’ record to 4-5 — was a crucial one for USC as it kept their chances of nabbing a spot in the Final Four alive. It was also a fitting birthday present for head coach Paul Joven.

The stakes are high for USC in their last game this weekend as they must win against the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars to raise their probability of making it to the semifinals.

For a moment, the lights were dimming for USC as they trailed, 42-52, at the start of the fourth canto. However, James Gica injected the Warriors with some life as he scored 10 points in a 12-0 blast that put USC ahead, 54-52.

USC appeared to have the win in the bag as they led, 64-60, after a midrange jumper by VJ Baruc with 21.7 seconds remaining. But CIT-U kept fighting and pulled to within two, 62-64, after an easy layup by John Jabonete. The Wildcats even had several chances at tying the game after the Warriors turned the ball over on the inbound play. However, Jabonete missed two free-throws and a layup.

USC could have put the game away but Baruc made just one of two free-throws for a 65-62 lead with 5.8 seconds to go. CIT-U’s Allen Gler then made a triple right before the final buzzer to send the game to overtime.

In the extra session, the Wildcats last held the lead at 70-69 after a Didoy Proel midrange jumper. The Warriors then uncorked a crucial 10-0 run that featured a triple from Andre Chua, a tough layup from Acer Go, and a three-pointer from Froilan Mangubat with 1:10 remaining that sealed the victory for USC.

Gica led USC with 20 points.

CIT-U fell to 1-7.

In the high school division, the City of Bogo Science and Arts Academy (CBSAA) Trailblazers pushed their winning streak to six games with a dominant 71-52 win over the USC Baby Warriors.