DEFENDING champion Southwestern University is treating the title series against University of the Visayas as a new encounter despite already registering three wins over the Green Lancers this season.
The Cobras have actually won all 12 of their games, including a sweep of the recently-concluded semifinal round, but head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba believes they must be wary of overconfidence as the best-of-five championship series begins Tuesday at the Cebu Coliseum.
“The 12-0 streak is gone and it is back to zero. I already told the boys to forget all that. I always tell them that we are the underdogs whenever we play against UV because they have veteran players compared to my team which is composed of sophomores and juniors,” said Alcoseba, who has steered the team to three consecutive finals appearances.
SWU has had UV’s number since Game Four of the finals series last year and has won all three of their matchups this season. The Cobras beat the Lancers, 70-66, in the elimination round and swept them as well in the semis, winning 68-64 in the first round and 77-70, in the second round.
The Cobras beat the Lancers last year in a thrilling five-game series that saw the former climb all the way back from a 17-point deficit in the last seven minutes of the deciding Game Five to win their first-ever title in this league.
Still, Alcoseba made it clear to his team that the Lancers will not be handing the title to them on a silver platter.
The veteran coach also said he has some concerns about his team’s ability to close out games.
“When it comes to finishing games, I think our team is still young and the boys are still figuring it out. But I’m happy with the level of maturity they are showing. I always look at my team as a young team with lots of lessons to be learned,” bared Alcoseba.
Meanwhile, UV head coach Felix “Donbel” Belano, remains unfazed by the losses to SWU this year.
UV won the first nine titles of the Cesafi but has not hoisted the crown since 2009, the last time Greg Slaughter played for the Lancers.
“Championship games altogether, are different stories. I just told my team to get a win so that we can get over the hump and make our confidence level go up,” said Belano, noting that they have to control the offensive boards and limit their turnovers.