John Umali nailed big shots down the stretch as Olivarez College survived Philippine Christian University, 78-71, in their do-or-die stepladder semifinal match in the 5th PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Umali spearheaded the back-breaking 10-0 run inside the final five minutes of the contest as the Sea Lions shook off a hard-fighting Dolphins side to set up a huge collision with second seed and twice-to-beat Diliman College Blue Dragons in the second part of the stepladder semis.
The Sea Lions forward finished with 17 points, built on four triples – none bigger than the last two which he drilled in the waning minutes to give Olivarez the much-needed breathing room .
Up only by two, 68-66, Umali drained a left wing triple that stretched the lead to five with 3:41 left in the clock before knocking down another one from the other side a few minutes later to slam the door on the Dolphins who managed to come back from a 13-point deficit early on.
Free throws from Umali and Vincent Rocero then capped the run to take a 78-66 lead which proved to be enough to cushion a late fightback from PCU.
Edmund Dela Cruz was also all over the floor for Olivarez scattering 17 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists while John Laurence Uduba added a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Tita Toscannie and Joshua Dino paced PCU with 14 points apiece.