SOUTHWESTERN University turned doubters into believers when it reached the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Finals on Thursday after stunning Far Eastern University, 86-71, at The Arena in San Juan.
And one convert was in fact the league itself which had booked a return flight for the Cobras to Cebu for Friday morning, or the day after the end of the single-round semifinals, thinking the provincial squad would not advance to the title stage.
The PCCL, considered as the national collegiate basketball tournament, books the two-way flights and accommodation in Manila of provincial teams.
Dismissing the Cobras as contenders provided extra motivation for the Southern Islands champions even before setting foot in Manila.
“Hindi pa tayo dumating, pauuwin na tayo,” Cobras coach Yayoy Alcoseba had told his boys before arriving in the nation’s capital on December 8, a day before the start of the Final Four.
The Cobras, as most college basketball fans knew, eventually took the metro by storm as they toppled UAAP champion La Salle and the Tamaraws, and surrendering only to NCAA titlist San Beda.
And with the victory over FEU, the Cobras have become only the second team outside Manila to reach the championship round, following the path set by Cesafi rival University of Visayas when the Greg Slaughter-led Lancers bowed to Ateneo in the 2007 edition.
Now that the Cobras are in the best-of-three Finals opposite the Green Archers, PCCL officials had to make new bookings for the team. But Alcoseba said they are not taking the incident personally.
“But we’re not saying anything against the PCCL because we are very close with (executive director) Joe Lipa and (chairman) Rey Gamboa,” the Cobras coach said.