CEBU CITY – Nine players will carry the fight for Cesafi titleholder Southwestern University with five players out due to the academic issues.
The final list of eligible players was released by the league on Friday night.
Declared eligible to play for the reigning champions are rookies Jesse Bautista, Val Gonzaga and Kier Clam, veterans Jun Luz, Anton Pardo, Melvin Holper, Janjan Auditor, Mac Racho and two-time MVP Mark Jayven Tallo.
Gone from last year's title squad are point guard Jasper Parker and forwards Rey Acuno, Bernie Bregondo and Daryl Goloran. Also declared ineligible was Congolese import Mupungo Boko.
Cobras assistant coach Rocky Alcoseba says they are not backing down.
“We will have strength, but we definitely won’t have the numbers,” said the son of the team’s fiery head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba.
“I like our chances because everyone is counting us out already. We feel like we’re going to a party that we’re not invited to.”
In 2010, University of San Carlos had eight players in their first game and still won. The Warriors eventually ended up with a 10-man rotation and came within a shot away of making it to the finals.
Focus is now on the Warriors, with the core intact after finishing runner-up last year, but USC head coach Britt Reroma remains wary of the undermanned Cobras.
“We’re definitely not counting them out. We know they’re undermanned but we have so much respect for them. They’re still the reigning champions. They have a great coach, they have great players so they’re not just going to roll over and give up. That’s for sure,” said Reroma in a talk with Spin.ph
Although he is confident with his squad, Reroma refuses to accept the “favorites” tag, saying nine-time champion University of the Visayas is now the team to beat.
“No, I won’t consider ourselves as the favorites. That title belongs to the Green Lancers. They have a lot of experienced players, players with championship experience. They have Steve Akomo back so I would say that they’re the team to beat,” said Reroma.
Cameroonian import Akomo returns after sitting out last year, and join Vincent Mendoza and Arvie Cabanero.