CEBU CITY — University of the Visayas coach Gary Cortes is well aware of the difficulty of pulling off a “four-peat” in any league.
But he and the Green Lancers are motivated to go for it when the 2019 Cesafi men’s basketball tournament comes off the wraps on Saturday at the Cebu Coliseum.
“Sayun storyahon, lisud buhaton (Easy to say, hard to do),” said Cortes of the daunting task.
The Green Lancers — the most successful team in the league with 13 collegiate titles — will no doubt be hunted, said Cortes during the league’s press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.
“We’re dreaming of that ‘four-peat.’ However, all the teams here are going out to compete and not just participate. As you saw in the preseason, a lot of games were won in the dying seconds,” said Cortes.
With reigning league MVP Rey Anthony Suerte taking his talents to the University of the East, the Green Lancers face a tough challenge of having to battle several legitimate contenders led by the recent Partner’s Cup champions, Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras, who feature, Lamine Thiam, their prolific wingman from Senegal.
SWU-Phinma head coach Mike Reyes said he has been reminding his players to forget about their preseason success and focus on the regular season.
“I keep reminding our team that it doesn’t follow that because we won the Partner’s Cup, that we are going to win the regular season,” said Reyes. “In all my 15 years of coaching in the Cesafi, this is the most balanced the league has ever been. On any given day, any given team can win against any other team. Wala nang game na sure win.”
Another perennial contender, the University of Cebu Webmasters, led by many-time champion coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba, is still reeling from the loss of prized recruit, Tristan Albina, who was declared ineligible because of academic issues.
However, Alcoseba declared that they will fight on.
“Our team is not built for one player. That’s why it’s called a team. Without Albina we have to compete. Well find out on September 1,” said Alcoseba.
The league is being presented by Sun Cellular, Cebu Landmasters and PayMaya.