IT'S been five long years since the Southwestern University (SWU)-Phinma rose to the apex of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament.
As a matter of fact, several members of that title-winning team have already gone on to have their own professional and semi-professional basketball careers. And when told of their alma mater’s rise back to prominence, they surprisingly were unsurprised.
“I’m happy for them. I never doubted na madadala ni coach Mike (Reyes) yung team sa finals. It was only a matter of time before SWU-Phinma really put it all together. Hopefully, manalo talaga sila (hopefully they win),” said Manila Stars guard Macmac Tallo, a former two-time Cesafi Most Valuable Player, who along with Cameroonian sensation Landry Sanjo, led the Cobras to their last title in 2014, winning over the University of San Carlos in a grueling five-game series, 3-2.
The sentiment was echoed by Jasper Parker, Tallo’s backcourt mate in 2014, who is now playing for Iloilo in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
“These guys are always in good hands with coach Mike. I know after our year they lost a lot of guys so basically it was a complete rebuilding process for them,” said the Filipino-American.
John Lloyd Luz, another former Cobra who was a key cog of that 2014 squad, said this Cobras squad definitely earned their ticket to the finals for all the hard work they have put in.
“I am filled with pride and joy knowing that SWU is back on track. As a former Cobra, I am fully aware of all the hard work, efforts and sacrifices that the players have to give. I am celebrating this victory with them! Five years, medyo matagal din yun na paghintay (it's been a long wait), but I never lost hope in my Cobras family that they would shine again dahil nagtatrabaho sila ng maayos (they work very hard) and they have great players and coaches,” said Luz.
It remains to be seen whether the Cobras would be snapping their title drought as standing opposite them in the Cesafi finals is none other than the three-time defending champions, University of the Visayas.