Ateneo de Cebu hopes to unseat reigning champs UC in Cesafi HS Finals

Jonas N. Panerio

LAST season, the SHS-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles found themselves in an unfamiliar position: Out of the Final Four and out of title contention.

Right then and there, LA Casinillo made a vow to his elder teammates, the ones that were playing their final seasons for the white and blue, that he and the rest of the Magis Eagles would bounce back for them.

The 16-year old Casinillo has since lived up to his promise as he has helped lead the Magis Eagles to the cusp of a championship in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) high school basketball tournament, after scoring a whopping 28 points in their 74-69 Game One win over the reigning titleholder, University of Cebu, last Monday.

Casinillo was sensational in the series-opener, especially in the fourth period where he torched UC’s defense for 10 straight points to help give the Magis Eagles a double-digit cushion in the fourth canto. He also made two pressure-packed free-throws down the stretch to seal Ateneo de Cebu’s win.

“It feels good to be back here. I remember promising my older brothers that this year we will bounce back for them. We, as a team, feel very blessed to be in this situation and it is an honor to be playing for Ateneo,” said Casinillo.

On a team filled with young players that had yet to taste Cesafi competition, Casinillo has blossomed and he credits his fine play to the work that he does with his father, Leo Casinillo, who he says inspired him to take up the sport with his stories of how it once was when he played with Cebuano basketball legend, Dondon Hontiveros.

“My dad used to play for UC along with Dondon Hontiveros. When I was young, he was sharing his stories during his days which made me feel inspired and that made me want to become like him,” shared Casinillo.

“My father has made a huge influence in my career.

Every game, he would be in the sidelines motivating me when I'm down and correcting my mistakes during the games. He pushes me beyond my limits, and every time I do well, he says it is not enough and that I should double my effort in the next game. My dad is a huge role model in my career.” (SunStar Cebu)