CEBU CITY – When it comes to reigning champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers and the Southwestern University Cobras, there is no such thing as a regular season game.
Those were the words of SWU head coach Raul 'Yayoy' Alcoseba on the eve of their first meeting with the Green Lancers this season in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament on Thursday in an expected madhouse of a Cebu Coliseum.
“Even though I try to tell my players to treat it just like any normal match, this game will be a spectacle. It will be physical. It will be tough. It will be exciting,” said Alcoseba in an interview right after the team’s practice session on Wednesday.
A lot has transpired since the Green Lancers made history at the Cobras’ expense during last season’s intense five-game finals series, where UV wiped out a 0-2 deficit.
SWU has used that bitter memory to fuel its fast start this year. The Cobras have won their first three outings this season to grab the lead in the standings, although Alcoseba remains wary given his team’s puzzling predilection for slow starts during games.
“Most of the players on this team are new. As you can see, I’m playing 14 to 15 players in each game. That is to know what my players are capable of when given playing time and to also build chemistry,” Alcoseba said of his team that is expected to bank on reigning MVP Mark Jayven Tallo, talented rookie Jasper Parker, sniper Anton Pardo, bruisers Daryl Goloran and Bernie Gregondo and imports Landry Sanjo and Bendly Valdor.
"But I hope that we can improve especially tomorrow (today) against UV," Alcoseba, a member of the provincial board of Cebu, added.
On the other hand, the Green Lancers have found themselves in unfamiliar territory with just one win to show in three games, their worst start in league history.
However, team manager and Congressman Gerald Anthony 'Samsam' Gullas is not pushing the panic button just yet, saying the slow start is more or less expected from a team loaded with freshmen and sophomores.
“A slow start was inevitable in my opinion. We have a team with mostly rookies and sophomores playing big minutes. Aside From (John) Abad we do not have legitimate scoring options out there. We’re hoping some sophomores could step up most especially (Leonard) Santillan,” Gullas said.