USJ-R, UC fight for Cesafi finals spot

THE University of Cebu Webmasters and the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars will meet for the fourth time this season and it will be the last.

But this is not just any game. The winner will advance to the championship round of the 2017 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) basketball tournament. Last Tuesday, UC escaped with an 81-71 win to force today’s winner-take-all game.

In the elimination round, the two teams split their head-to-head match-up; the Webmasters beat USJ-R, 87-85, last Sept. 2 and the Jaguars returned the favor with an 87-83 win over UC last Sept. 23.

Aside from determining which team will advance to the final against the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, the game will add another chapter to the rivalry of coaches Jun Noel of USJ-R and Yayoy Alcoseba of UC.

Their rivalry dates back to the 80s back in the defunct Cebu Basketball League (CBL) days and was taken to the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) where Noel coached IPI’s Mamas Love Baby Powder, while Alcoseba called the shots for the M. Lhuillier Jewelers.

Their last encounters were in the Liga Pilipinas, where Noel and the Misamis Oriental Meteors were the lone stumbling block to Alcoseba’s ML Kwarta Padala Cebu Niños.

But while Alcoseba has made it to the Cesafi championship round for five straight years with the Southwestern University Cobras, Noel is yet make the finals since calling the shots for the Jaguars starting in the 2014 season.

However, the Jaguars are hungrier than UC, whose last finals appearance was in 2011 during June Mar Fajardo’s final season in Cesafi.

The last time USJ-R made it to the championship round was in the 2006 season, which was its fifth finals appearance.

Since then, the Jaguars have stayed in the sidelines, bidding for their time to make it back to the championship round.

That dream is within reach today and all they need to do is play like they did last Sept. 23, force UC to commit 33 turnovers and make their shots.

UC’s strength lies on its Cameroonian center Frederick Elombi and his performance. But last Tuesday, Elombi sat back and let the locals do most of the damage.

Although Elombi had 19 points and 10 rebounds, it was the local UC players--led by Garciano Puerto, Joven Tagudin, Justine Dacalos and John Jabello—who rendered the gallant stand of USJ-R hopeless.

The Jaguars, however, enjoy a twice-to-beat edge over the Webmasters.

Meanwhile, Cesafi deputy commissioner and lawyer Marvin Pañares confirmed that he gave the order to lift the suspension of referees Roland Yamelo and Jebrel Calma, who were under suspension for their participation in the controversial UC-USPF game last Sept. 14. Their suspension was lifted in time for Thursday’s semifinal game between UV and the USC Warriors.

“Yes, we lifted the suspension because the investigation is over. USPF failed to come up with solid evidence for referee Roland Yamelo’s alleged challenge on player Clyde Avanceña. The supposed witness who claimed to have heard Yamelo’s challenge, Roy Quiachon, did not attend the investigation last Sept. 15,” said Pañares.


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