IT IS said often but it can’t be overstated: never underestimate the heart of a champion.
The University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers proved this yet again as they booked their seat in the finals with a pulse-pounding 76-75 victory over the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters in their semifinals rubbermatch in the 2019 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, November 16, 2019.
Ted Saga stepped into the hero’s role as he sank two pressure-packed free-throws with 3.1 seconds left to give UV the lead for good. Down 74-75 after UC guards John Jabello and Paul Galinato canned back-to-back three-pointers with 19.1 ticks to go. UV’s possession initially went awry but got salvaged after Jancork Cabahug — who was celebrating his birthday on Saturday — recovered the loose ball and got fouled as he was going up for a shot.
Cabahug appeared to have injured his knee and was unable to continue, leaving Saga to take his place at the free-throw line. Without any hesitation, Saga made the two free throws to give UV the lead.
UC had one last shot at taking the win and a seat in the finals but Rodel Gravera’s baseline jumper as the final buzzer sounded fell short.
The loss was a bitter one for the Webmasters as they not only squandered their twice-to-beat bonus in the semifinals, but also lost a 14-point lead in the deciding game.
Lass Coulibally led UV with 17 points and 14 rebounds along with four blocks before fouling out late in the game. Cabahug finished with 12 points while Gabriel Cometa added 11. Monic Soliva contributed 10 including several buckets that helped UV come back from a 53-63 deficit early in the final canto.
Darrell Shane Menina scored 24 points for UC while Galinato added 22. Sesay managed just 13 markers.