UNIVERSITY of the Visayas has twice foiled Southwestern University’s bid to close out the title series and now the battle boils down to one match as the Lancers and Cobras face off in Game Five of the Cesafi basketball finals on Thursday at the Cebu Coliseum.
“If we do not match their energy and desire to win, then we have no chance tomorrow,” said SWU coach Yayoy Alcoseba, who saw his team’s 0-2 lead evaporate in the face of a gallant comeback by the Lancers in the last two games.
“It’s not anymore about the X and O's. It’s more on mental focus and drive to want to win it all,” Alcoseba added.
UV won Game Three in double overtime, 89-82, and tied the series with a 71-66 win in Game Four.
The Lancers lost a 17-point lead in Game Five of title series to the Cobras last year and are raring for revenge.
“Championships are earned in the hardest of ways. We were reminded to play like there’s no tomorrow, play with a big heart, defend courageously and as always, make our free-throws,” said UV head coach Felix Belano.
UV's biggest spark has been the smallest player on its roster, the 5-foot-6 lefty John Abad who with his heady play and steady shotmaking has resuscitated the Lancers' title hopes. He scored 20 in Game Three, including several free-throws in the endgame that sealed the win, and finished with a team-high 24 in Game Four capped by two free-throws in the dying seconds that shut the door on the Cobras.
Belano cautioned his troops against becoming overconfident against the Cobras, who before Games Three and Four were unbeaten in 14 straight games.
“Overconfidence has no space in the one who vies for the crown. If our wins will get into our heads, then we are bound to fail,” the former pro cager bared.