CEBU CITY – An intriguing saga between traditional power Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras and the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors hits its climax on Sunday when they clash for southern hardcourt supremacy in the deciding Game five of the Cesafi men’s basketball championship series at the Cebu Coliseum.
SWU head coach Raul 'Yayoy' Alcoseba, who has a 1-2 (win-loss) record in the finals, said the experience in playing in three previous winner-take-all games will not mean a thing for the Cobras if they do not play with urgency, pride and effort in the 6 p.m. game.
This marks the fourth straight year that the Cobras will be playing in a Game Five. They were beaten, 54-60, by the University of Cebu Webmasters in 2011, slipped past University of the Visayas, 73-72, in 2012 before the Green Lancers got back at the Cobras in Game Five last year, 63-62.
“Whoever plays with more effort and defends well enough will win this game. All that experience doesn’t mean anything because that will not translate into wins. Effort will,” said Alcoseba.
The Cobras blew a chance to wrap up the best-of-five series in Game Four where they were outrebounded by the Warriors, 23-31 - a stat that the longtime mentor said helped hasten their downfall.
“The rebounding numbers says it all. If we get outrebounded, it just means that they’re working harder than us and that they wanted the ball and the win more than us. We have to get better at controlling the boards,” said the Cebu board member.
For his part, USC head coach Junthy Valenzuela said the Warriors will continue to do the things that brought them on the cusp of a first championship in the Cesafi .
“We’ll keep on doing what brought us to this moment and that is play defense and limit the scoring of their top four players, namely (Jasper) Parker, (Jovanie) Luz, Mark (Tallo) and (Landry) Sanjo. Now if we can limit three of those players from reaching double figures, I think we’ll do just fine,” said the former pro turned head coach.
USC once again played exceptional defense in Game Four, holding SWU to below 50 points while keeping Tallo, Luz and Parker to a combined 14 points. Sanjo also continued his puzzling slump in the finals, managing just 11 points and six rebounds.
Valenzuela also made mention of their turnover numbers, a statistic that they’re gradually improved on with each passing game. After throwing the ball away a total of 60 times in the first two games of the series, the Warriors have dialled it down a bit and are averaged 24 in Games Three and Four.
“If we take good care of the ball, that’s more possessions for us and less for them. That will also play a difference,” the Bogo City-bred former two-guard said.