Tallo issues challenge to rival UV as 'flawed' Cesafi format leaves room for manipulation
Despite winning their first 13 games of the season, SWU and Mac Tallo face the specter of missing out on the finals with a UV loss to against USC on Thursday. Ron Tolin

CEBU CITY – Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras star Macmac Tallo has thrown down the gauntlet on longtime rival University of the Visayas, daring the Green Lancers to face them in the finals in the 16th Cesafi men’s basketball tournament.

Due to a semifinal format that leaves room for manipulation, the Green Lancers, unbeaten in the semifinal round, can all but choose which opponent to face in the best-of-five championship series.

Already at 2-0 after beating the Cobras, 65-53, on Sunday, the Green Lancers next face the defending champions University of San Carlos Warriors, which boast of an even 1-1 record, on Thursday.

The Cobras, which also sport a 1-1 card, will be taking on the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars which remain winless in this round, also on Thursday.

The top two finishers at the end of the round-robin semis will advance to the finals.

Should USC win over UV, the Green Lancers will be taking on the Warriors in the best-of-five finals, even if SWU prevails over USJ-R.

Tallo and the rest of the Cobras are well aware of this possibility. And the SWU captain had some choice words to say to their arch-rivals.

“All I can say is if UV will purposely lose to USC, what’s the point of playing in the finals if you can’t play the best?” the spunky two-time MVP said.

“Kung sasabihin nila na kaya ng UV 'yung SWU, then dapat hindi nila i-take advantage yung pangit na format na ‘to,” added the son of one-time PBA player Mark Tallo.

Tallo also lamented the tournament’s semifinal format, which offered no incentive for the classification round’s top seed. The Cobras won 13 straight games but after the loss to UV, stand on the brink of missing the finals for the second straight year.

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“Sobrang sakit isipin na mawawala lang 'yung lahat ng pinaghirapan dahil natalo nang isang beses and di kami na nabigyan ng chance para makapasok sa finals," he lamented.

"Pero kasi wala na tayo magagawa sa format nila. From the start we all knew naman about this. Alam na namin kung paano ka pangit yung pag gawa nila sa format. From undefeated tapos back to zero sa semis?”

Meanwhile, UV head coach Gary Cortes just shrugged off the notion that they will be picking their opponent and said that their upcoming match versus the Warriors will be “just another game.”

“It’s just another game for us. We can’t say that we can pick any opponent because the way I see it, it’s an even field. SWU beat us twice but we beat them on Sunday. We beat USC in the first round but they beat us in the second. Same thing with USJ-R,” said Cortes.

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