The year 2016 in Cebu’s amateur basketball scene brought a lot of familiar scenes: the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers reclaimed a throne they’ve sat on 10 previous times in the collegiate level while the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles captured their fourth straight title in the high school division.
Both feats, albeit incredible, weren’t without difficulty, as the Green Lancers overcame controversy before eventually hurdling the erstwhile champions University of San Carlos Warriors in the Cesafi men’s basketball tournament.
On the other hand, the Magis Eagles shone when many thought they were at their most vulnerable as they upended a feisty University of Cebu Baby Webmaster team that had bested them twice during the 2016 juniors basketball wars.
Heading to the finals, the Magis Eagles, winners of the last three championships, had shown glimpses of vulnerability especially when ranged against the Baby Webmasters which beat them first, 55-62, in the elimination round, and then again in the semifinals, 68-73.
However, whatever questions about Ateneo de Cebu were quickly laid to rest as they thoroughly dominated their opponents in a two-game sweep that underscored their reputation as the most successful high school basketball team outside of Manila. Of note was Ateneo de Cebu’s Jed Colonia bagging his second straight MVP award in the high school division.
While the Magis Eagles soared to the throne, the Green Lancers grinded their way to theirs. Though the records say that they won the 2016 Cesafi crown via a 3-1 series win over the Warriors, it states nothing of the challenges UV had to hurdle on its way to the title.
After a lackluster showing in the double round-robin elimination round, the Green Lancers woke up in the round-robin semis and handed bitter rivals Southwestern University (SWU)-Phinma their one and only loss last season – one that proved critical as it essentially booted the previously-unbeaten Cobras from championship contention.
After fending off accusations that they dropped their semifinal game to the Warriors on purpose to avoid a finals match-up against the Cobras, the Green Lancers found their groove in the finals and rode the terrific performances of eventual league MVP Rey Suerte and veteran forward Monic Soliva, to annex their 11th league crown, the most in Cesafi history.
In bigger stage
A few months after the 2016 Cesafi season came to a close, several alumni of the league found new homes in the PBA D-League as they got drafted by different teams during the D-League Draft earlier this month.
Former University of Southern Philippines Foundation center Jomari Sollano was picked second by Tanduay and was joined on the same squad by former Southwestern University-Phinma Cobra Monbert Arong.
Two-time Cesafi MVP Macmac Tallo, also of SWU-Phinma, was selected in the third round by Racal Motors. Ex-University of the Visayas Baby Lancer Orlan Wamar was picked by Café France. The fifth round saw another former ace of USPF, JB Bahio, get selected by Cignal-San Beda while SWU-Phinma’s Ian Ortega was tapped to play for Café France.
On the grassroots level, UV’s SBP squad made it all the way to the national finals of the Milo-backed SBP-Passerelle Twin Tournament in Bacolod City but got beaten in the championship game by La Salle Greenhills.