Clash of Giants in Season 23

FOR ALL THE MARBLES. The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles and the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers clash in a best-of-three showdown for the Cesafi juniors’ crown. File photo during the elimination round. / Sugbuanong Kodaker
FOR ALL THE MARBLES. The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles and the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers clash in a best-of-three showdown for the Cesafi juniors’ crown. File photo during the elimination round. / Sugbuanong Kodaker

TWO age-old rivals will do battle once again, as the reigning champions Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles face off against the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers in Game One of the best-of-three finals in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Season 23 high school basketball tournament on Monday afternoon, Dec. 11, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.

Tip-off is at 5 p.m. with the two protagonists coming off hard-fought victories in the semifinals.

UV’s confidence is riding high right now after they took down the tournament’s top seed, the University of San Jose-Recoletos Baby Jaguars despite the latter’s twice-to-beat advantage.

The Baby Lancers completed the job on Saturday as they dominated the Baby Jaguars, 68-51, in their do-or-die game to barge into the finals. The Magis Eagles, on the other hand, fought off the resilient University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue (UCLM), 62-51, on the same day to book the other finals ticket.

This will be the first time these two teams will meet since 2017 when UV, which was then led by MVP Beirn Laurente, swept Ateneo de Cebu to capture the high school crown.

Adding more spice to this match-up is the fact that the champion this season will have the most high school titles in Cesafi history. The Magis Eagles and the Baby Lancers are currently tied with six championships each.

The guards will play key roles in this titular face-off. UV’s lightning-quick guard Kent Castro played very well in the semifinals and is fresh off a 20-point outing that helped seal their place in the finals.

For Ateneo de Cebu, two-guard Alden Cainglet helped save the Magis Eagles’ title-retention bid with his 23-point explosion on Saturday, which included several crucial baskets that kept UCLM at bay. Meanwhile, the country’s top-ranked high school player, Jared Bahay, has yet to showcase his form as he scored just eight on 2-of-15 shooting last Saturday.

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