BEING the top two teams in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) basketball tournament has its downside—they could not get reinforcements for this year’s Partners Cup, which is set to open this Sunday at the Cebu Coliseum.

In the past editions, only the last three teams were allowed to get reinforcements.

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This time, all the teams except for champion University of the Visayas (UV) and runner-up University of Cebu (UC) will be tapping the services of former players to beef up their lineup.

“Although this is the decision, the teams also have the option not to get any reinforcements. But the most glaring additions are USJ-R’s reinforcements Jabe Delfino Mannie Gabas and Armand Ponce, the former varsity players. USJ-R badly wants to make it to the finals,” said organizer Felix Tiukinhoy.

USJ-R and USC are allowed to get three reinforcements, while Don Bosco, Cebu Institute of Technology and University of Southern Philippines Foundation are allowed five.

For this Sunday’s opening, organizers want to put the junior teams in the limelight as this year marks the first time the high school teams take part in the Partners Cup.

In the curtain-raiser, PTT Oil-UV Baby Lancers will be taking on Enervon C-UC Baby Webmasters followed by the match between San Marino Corned Tuna-University of San Carlos Baby Warriors and the Ave Maria Sanctuary and Park-University of San Jose-Recoletos Baby Jaguars.

In the college division, Cesafi’s nine-time champion PTT-UV will take on Lion Tiger Aerosol-USPF at 4 p.m., followed by San Marino-USC and Ave Maria-USJ-R at 5:30 p.m.

Aside from the changes in the reinforcement, the tournament also adopts the barangayan substitution pattern where there will be a different set of five players in the first three periods. In the final quarter, the regular substitution system will take effect.