TOP seed University of San Carlos Warriors will try to shoot down defending champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers as they try to reach the finals for the first time since 2007 when the 2014 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Basketball tournament semifinal round starts today.
For the first time in 14 years, the Warriors became the no.1 team after the elimination round after the Southwestern University Cobras gave away their final game to the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars, 84-73, last Saturday.
As SWU slipped to 8-2, USC (9-1) became the top finisher and will enjoy a twice-to-beat over UV (4-6). The Cobras will also enjoy a two-to-beat incentive advantage over the Jaguars (5-5).
The USC-UV game will start at 6:45 p.m. after the high school quarterfinal match between the Cebu Institute of Technology-University Wildkittens and University of Cebu Baby Webmasters at 5:15 p.m.
“Moduwa mi like there’s no more next game. For sure, ang UV himoon nila tanan aron naa pa sila next game. My players should give their all, and there should be less poor decision making,” Warriors head coach Junthy Valenzuela told Sun.Star Cebu.
UV however has been in the same situation before.
Last year, the Cobras pushed them against the wall but the Lancers bounced back with conviction and win the last three games of the championship series to win the title.
“We have been in this situation last year, kaya we will live up to our mantra – heart, defense and prayers. May God Bless us. We will play it one game at a time, so we have to stay focus on defense and play like there is no tomorrow. Our main game plan is to limit their imports,” Belano told Sun.Star Cebu.
USC defeated UV twice in the elimination round, 83-74 last Aug. 9 and 69-66 last Sept. 1.
In their pre-season meetings, UV won only once and that was in Game 1 of the Cordova Mayor’s Cup tournament last June.
However, USC is playing without its top local player – Ian Ortega who had a partial ACL tear.
Still Valenzuela, a former PBA star who last played for Ginebra San Miguel, is hopeful his boys can stay toe-to-toe with the veterans of Belano, who also played for Talk ‘N Text in the PBA.