The UC webmasters are once again CESAFI champions. Junmar Fajardo and Edward Pao were instrumental in their back-to-back champion.
Edward Pao came up with the biggest shots of his career, drilling in a pair of booming 3-pointers at crunchtime as the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters rallied past the Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras, 60-54, in the deciding Game 5 to clinch back-to-back titles in the seniors division of the 11th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) basketball season last night at the Cebu Coliseum.
With 2:30 seconds on the clock, Pao, who had a dismal game all night long, hit a crucial three-pointer to tie the game at 52. Bercede then gave the lead to UC, 54-52, after a layup.
Rene Pacquiao retaliated with a 15-footer to tie the game at 54. Pao, who only had six points in the game saved the best for last and sank another shot from beyond the arc for a 57-54 advantage.
Pesky guard Francis Luigi Bercede later split his charities to pad their lead to five, 59-54, that eventually broke the backs of the gritty Cobras with only 15 seconds to go.
“We have the same personnel, but we won because of the breaks of the game. It was the difference. We had a run near the end of the game with the two three-point shots of Pao and the free throws of Luigi,” Roehl Gomez said moments after UC captured the back-to-back championships.
Meanwhile, the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers and Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles will settle their own issue as they collide in the deciding match of their best-of-five finals series for the juniors division crown at 5:30 pm today.
It was a sweet redemption of sort for Pao. Aside from failing to score any point for more than three quarters and being hounded by several passing errors, Pao was also slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul for throwing an elbow to SWU’s Eleazar Armecin in the final 4:30 of the contest.
Inspite of his lackluster showing, Pao still got the trust of UC coach Roel Gomez, who let him stay in the game.
And Pao did not let Gomez and the rest of his teammates down. More so, their legion of fans.
While 6-foot-9 center Junemar Fajardo scored 12 of his 23 points in the final canto, it was Pao’s heroics that mattered most.
“We just have the breaks of the game” said a very ecstatic Gomez, whose UC squad lost a 10-point lead, 28-18, and even trailed by three at the end of the third period, 35-38.
Aside from Fajardo, burly playmaker Quinton Brian Heruela was the only other UC player who dished out double figures with 11.
Pacquiao led the Cobras with 18 points, but 6-foot-6 center Justin Aboude, Bonifacio Guillena and Armecin were not so productive on the offensive end.
The game had a brief halt at halftime after there were too many spectators inside the Cebu Coliseum that the crowd reached court-side. The thrilling game was also stopped near the end of regulation after SWU coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba confronted UC assistant coach Jobers Samonte.
Fajardo was awarded the MVP after the game. He was also included in the collegiate division’s mythical five along with teamates Bercede and Brian Heruela, and SWU’s Eleazar Armecin and Pacquiao.
UC (60) – Fajardo 23, Heruela 11, Bercede 8, Auditor 8, Pao 6, Ampoon 2, Mohammad 2
SWU (54) – Pacquaio 18, Nalos 11, Aboude 9, Guillena 9, Armecin 6, Arong 1