CEBU CITY - After witnessing the University of San Carlos Warriors pull the rug from under the Southwestern University Cobras in Game Two of the Cesafi men’s basketball finals on Tuesday, cage legend Ramon Fernandez said he is convinced his alma mater has what it takes to go all the way.
“They certainly have the heart to do it. If they can keep on playing that terrific defense, they have a chance to take the title,” said Fernandez, undisputedly USC's finest basketball product - the ultimate Warrior, if you must - after a stellar career in the PBA and with the national team.
Fernandez, a native of Maasin, Leyte, suited up for the Warriors from 1970 to 1972 before joining the Manila Braves in the defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (Micaa) and embarking on a 19-year career that saw him end up as the PBA’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots.
The four-time PBA MVP has been a constant presence at ringside in this year’s finals where USC is aiming to win its first crown in league history.
Needless to say, Fernandez is optimistic about their chances after watching the Warriors hold the Cobras to their lowest points output this season in a 53-46 victory that tied the best-of-five championship series at 1-1.
“That was really terrific display of both individual and team defense,” said Fernandez of USC’s defensive stand that held SWU’s import Landry Sanjo to pedestrian numbers of 13 points and four rebounds. Reigning league MVP Mark Jayven Tallo was worse off, going scoreless.
Still, Fernandez said that USC could still stand to improve in the coming games especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“They certainly can do a lot better especially with their defense on Mark Tallo. They don’t have to send help defense at him. They can take him one-on-one and lean on their man in the middle, (Shooster) Olago. They’re helping out too much and leaving other shooters open,” critiqued the 6-foot-4 legend.