CEBU CITY – Southwestern University eyes a fourth straight finals appearance as they battle the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars on Thursday in the semifinals of the Cesafi men’s basketball tournament at the Cebu Coliseum.
University of San Carlos on Tuesday booked the first finals spot, toppling last year’s champion University of the Visayas, 67-61, and SWU aims to follow suit and advance to the best-of-five championship round.
SWU is eyeing redemption after a huge collapse last season when the Cobras, leading the Lancers 2-0, crumbled and allowed the Green Lancers to take the next three games and claim the title.
Standing in their way in the semis are the resurgent Jaguars, who beat the Cobras, 74-83, last week.
Though it appeared as if SWU took their foot off the gas pedal in that game to gain a more favorable semis match-up, the Jaguars still shot the lights out to grab win and seal their place in the semis.
“We cannot take USJ-R lightly. We don’t want to drag this out any longer than we have to. So we really have to play hard and go all out,” said SWU head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba.
However, the Cobras have not played at full strength all season long, missing the services of Fil-Canadian Adams Mohammed who is still recovering from a broken foot. But according to SWU assistant coach Rocky Alcoseba, Mohammed practiced for the first time on Monday and took part in full court drills.
SWU is expected to have their best defensive forward Daryl Goloran back from a pulled hamstring and contend with USJ-R’s high-scoring rookie Kevin Villafranca.
The Cobras won their first and only Cesafi crown in 2012, while USJ-R last made the finals in 2008 when they lost to the Greg Slaughter-powered Green Lancers.