THEY are not known as Cebu's Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) champions for nothing.
After picking a win in the five-team field, the Southwestern University (SWU) Phinma Cobras played differently in the battle for third place.
Against former tormentor, the young and all-solid SWU Cobras completely dominated the Cebu Niños, 88-75, in the Tagoloan Christmas hoopfest that ended on Saturday, December 21, at the jam-packed Tagoloan Dome of Misamis Oriental.
Adjusting well on defense following its 84-89 defeat to the same team at the close of the elimination round, Southwestern never gave the more experienced but ragtag Niños a chance to thrive on their usual individual plays.
On top of that, the SWU Cobras sparkled on their outside shooting that mattered the most in taking the third-place honor of the five-day hoopfest worth P75,000. The Cebu Niños got P50,000 as well.
"It's hard to defend them [Niños] individually because they're all talented offensively as part of the young generation of top collegiate players around the country. But we did everything as a team. One of them goes for fastbreak and five of our boys followed suit. We really worked hard on this triumph," SWU Phinma coach Mike Reyes told SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
Shining brightly for Southwestern are Sir Shaquille Imperial and Black center-forward Mamadou Lamine Moctar Thiam who paced Phinma Cobras with 21 and 18 points apiece with Allyn Dyll Roncal, Harvey Kent Sanchez, John Joseph Evardo and Heider Bilao coming up with a combined 27.
The Cebu Niños drew 18 and 17 markers each from Tricky Dyn Peromingan and hard-working import Ilomvi.
Oro's big man Elmor del Puerto contributed a measly six points for Cebu Niños' losing cause.
"It's really hard to play ball in a team that you're just a complete stranger. You can't talk with your coach and so with your teammates," Del Puerto said.
The youthful Cobras and the Niños both made it to the Top 4 after edging the highly-favored Parekoy Las Piñas Manila of former pro Egay Billones in the three-way logjam tiebreaker.