CEBU CITY — Old rivals Southwestern University and University of the Visayas meet in a title showdown for the first time in 16 years as they face off in a fitting climax to the 12th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. men’s basketball tournament.
SWU bounced back to defeat defending champion University of Cebu 70-55 on Sunday, exacting revenge from their semifinal conqueror last year.
On Saturday, the UV Lancers turned back the SWU Cobras 84-76 to claim the first finals berth.
The SWU-UV rivalry dates back to the 1960s and the last time these two schools met in the finals was in 1996, which was marred by a free-for-all.
More of the same intensity is to be expected in this year's encounter especially after last season's tumultuous semifinal affair. The rubber match nearly ended in a fistfight as several UV players committed unsportsmanlike fouls against SWU rivals in the dying seconds of the Cobras win. SWU eventually lost to the June Mar Fajardo-led UC in the final.
On Sunday, the Cobras got off to fine start and led the rest of the way although there were tense moments especially in the third canto where they saw their 16-point lead sliced down to 45-40 after a trey by UC rookie guard, Kido Cabrera.
SWU retaliated with a basket by Cameroonian Ben Mbala, a three by Jestoni Casquejo and a buzzer-beating floater by Monbert Arong that gave them a 52-40 lead heading to the final period.
The Cobras were boosted by the return of starting wingman Bon Guillena who has missed all but one game this season because of a groin injury. He made his first two baskets and scored eight of his 12 points in the first half, which ended with SWU on top, 37-23.
Joseph Nalos scored 15 points to lead SWU, Justin Aboude had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Bernie Bregondo scored eight points and pulled down 19 boards.
Cabrera led UC with 17 and Brian Heruela added 15.