The University of San Carlos Warriors escaped with an overtime victory against the University of the Visayas Green Lancers with a final score of 79-75 at the 15th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) Men’s Basketball Tournament, held at the Cebu Coliseum. The win gave the Warriors their second consecutive finals appearance as they lead the four-team semi-finals round 2-0.

USC started the first quarter with shots from Maverick Suarez, Charles Pepito, and a dunk from Shooster Olago, but their solid offensive start took a hit as UV capitalized on their constant turnovers and fouls. The first quarter ended with both teams tied at 16-all.

Turnovers and lack of help defence for Olago turned the second quarter in favour of the Green Lancers 27-23, but a three from Nicolas Magat ignited a 9-0 for the Warriors. The first half ended in 32-27 in favour of the Warriors.

The Green Lancers bounced back in the third with the presence of Steve Nkomo and the shooting of Alfred Codilla. It was Pepito who saved the Warriors from a dismal quarter but failed to lift the team as UV led 52-45.

In the last period, the combined efforts of Pepito and Olago broke UV’s defence and forced them with turnovers. The Warriors then suffered a hit in the latter part of the fourth period as Pepito left the court with a wrist injury after scoring on a layup. In the final seconds, Caesar Ortega missed two crucial free throws, giving UV 8 seconds to tie the game 68-70. Jun Manzo of the Green Lancers forced the game into overtime with a crucial jump shot.

In the overtime period, Pepito returned to help Olago stimulate the defence. The turning point came when Pepito scored a reverse lay-up and a foul with 30 seconds remaining in the game. The game ended with 79-75 in favour of the Warriors.

“I think it is all about mental toughness,” said USC Warriors Coach Britt Reroma when asked about the key point for this victory, “because there are certain situations in the game that the players will breakdown in our defensive end and in the offense, we were always in a hurry.”

Charles Pepito was awarded as the best player of the game after posting a double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds. When asked about what motivated him to return to the game after sustaining an injury, he said, “kailangan ko bumalik kasi  ko lang yung inaasahan ni coach kaya bumalik ako kahit na injured ako.

The University of San Carlos Warriors will next face the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars this Saturday to finish the semi-final round.

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