The Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras pulled the rug from under the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers once again as the reigning Cesafi champions escaped with an 82-78 win to clinch the Southern Islands title in the 2012 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) yesterday at the Cebu Coliseum.
The thrilling victory earned SWU a slot in the Final Four of this tournament, joining UAAP champion Ateneo and NCAA titlists San Beda. The other slot is still being disputed in the Metro Manila qualifiers.
It was déjà vu for the Green Lancers as they fell apart during crunchtime, much like their Game 5 loss in the Cesafi championship series, where they led by 18 points with seven minutes left in the game but still managed to get beaten.
This time, it was UV that came all the way back from an early 16-point deficit (10-26) but rallied and even took a 67-62 lead after a 9-0 blast with 5:35 left in the game.
The Lancers remained ahead as Phil Mercader swished a three-pointer from the wing while getting fouled, and made the bonus freethrow for a 78-75 advantage with 1:39 remaining.
But Cesafi’s first Rookie of the Year-MVP Wowie Escosio made a huge blunder following Mercader’s freethrow as he got slapped with a technical foul for a delay of game violation. Adding insult to injury, that was Escosio’s fifth personal foul of the game, which disqualified him for the rest of the period.
SWU took advantage as Monbert Arong made one freethrow and Melvin Dedace hit a midrange jumper that tied the game at 78-all.
On the Cobras’ next possession, reserve guard Junrey Ortuyo split his charities to give them a one-point lead, 79-78. UV forward Jerome Silva turned the ball over on the Lancers’ offensive, which led to two more made freebies by SWU’s Joseph Nalos for an 81-78 lead in the final 25.1 seconds.
UV’s last ditch attempt went nowhere as Franz Arong missed his trey attempt and the game was sealed by one more freethrow by Ortuyo.
Cameroonian Ben Mbala paced SWU with 21 points while Nalos came up big with 19 markers.
John Abad led UV with 22 while Mercader had 18.
ADAMSON DOWNS LA SALLE
Meanwhile, Jericho Cruz and Roider Cabrera came up with the killer blows in crunchtime to help the Adamson Soaring Falcons oust the La Salle Green Archers, 63-56, in the first game.
The win by the Falcons put them closer towards a berth in the Final Four, which will be staged in Manila. They still must hurdle the reigning PCCL champions San Sebastian Stags on Monday.
It was a sorry loss for La Salle, which controlled the lead for the first three periods and were ahead, 39-34, at the end of the third canto.
Cruz topped Adamson with 17 points while Cabrera finished with 15 markers. La Salle was led by Jeron Teng and Tampus, who each had 13 points.