THE University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Baby Panthers kept their finals hopes alive by defeating the reigning champions University of Cebu (UC) Baby Webmasters in a double-overtime thriller, 82-75, in the 2019 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) high school basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.
Kyle Ochavo, the smallest man on the floor, showed he had the biggest heart out there as he sparked USPF’s comeback from a 17-point deficit in the fourth period to give his Baby Panthers the victory and send their semis showdown to a winner-take-all game on Saturday, November 16.
Ochavo finished the game with 30 points, including the teardrop that kissed the glass before dropping in, sending the game to the first overtime. He also showed his impeccable nose for the ball, finishing with 10 rebounds. He topped off his unforgettable performance with five assists.
The Baby Panthers were down, 35-52, at the start of the fourth but rallied behind the relentless playmaking of Ochavo, who sparked a furious 16-0 run to bring them within one. He later gave the Baby Panthers the lead at 54-53 with a triple with 4:25 to go.
But UC composed themselves and regained the lead, 63-59, after a bankshot by Maczi Micutuan and a lay-up by Isaiah Blanco. But USPF kept at it, pulling to within two after two free-throws by Antonio Octaviano, and then, after a backcourt violation by UC’s King Balaga, tied the ballgame at 63-all behind Ochavo’s floater down the middle.
In the first overtime, USPF had several chances to grab the win but Christopher Isabelo and Ochavo missed their shots before time expired.
The Baby Panthers, however, made sure to secure the win in the second extra session, as they pulled in front, 80-74, after a basket by Jack “Baby Shaq” Suello off a sweet pass by Ochavo. Octaviano then sealed the win by scoring in transition with just 12 seconds remaining.
Elijah Singson also did a yeoman’s job of helping out Ochavo as he tallied 16 points while Suello added 13.
Luther Leonard led UC with 22 points, while Micutuan pitched in 16. Blanco had 15 before sitting out the game’s final moments because of an apparent knee injury.