UV Green Lancers, SWU-Phinma Cobras renew rivalry in Game 1 of Cesafi finals

Jonas Panerio

WOULD vengeance be finally served by the Southwestern University (SWU)-Phinma six years after the fact? Or would the University of the Visayas (UV) extend their title reign to four years?

These are just some of the narratives that surround what is expected to be an intense championship showdown in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s basketball tournament that starts with Game One at the Cebu Coliseum on Monday, November 18, 2019.

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. right after the series opener in the best-of-three finals in the high school tournament between the reigning champions University of Cebu (UC) and the SHS-Ateneo de Cebu.

The last time these two squads met in the Cesafi finals was in 2013 with UV pulling off a miracle of sorts as they overhauled a 0-2 series deficit to stun what was then just SWU, 3-2.

Now, the Cobras finally get their shot at revenge as they try to put an end to UV’s three-year reign at the top of the Cesafi. Two of the Cobras’ most reliable players--Shaquille Imperial and team captain Dyll Roncal--are well aware that the job at hand is a daunting one.

The two teams each had a win over the other in the elimination round, with both games going down the wire. UV won in the first round, 71-66, but SWU-Phinma paid them back in the second, 70-67.

“I feel excited and at the same time, nervous because UV is a three-time champion and they are not to be taken lightly,” said Roncal, a lanky forward who has really blossomed this season.

“We really have to play our very best and rely on the system of coach Mike (Reyes). Most of all, we always have to communicate with one another,” Roncal added.

“There’s excitement and nervousness, all at the same time. But I know we all have to shut that out and just focus on the game at hand,” shared Imperial.

For UV, the Cobras are the latest challengers to a throne that they have sat on in each of the last three seasons. Veteran forward Monic Soliva, who helped UV win the 2016 and 2017 titles before sitting out last year, said that he and the rest of the team are ready to do battle with the Cobras after vanquishing the UC Webmasters, 76-75, in their do-or-die semifinal match last Saturday.

“Of course, we’re a little bit nervous because SWU-Phinma has a lot of veterans and their import can really deliver as well. But we are ready for them. We trust in the system of coach Gary (Cortes) and in each other,” said Soliva. “It’s all about defense and effort!”