Cesafi: Warriors ready to face Green Lancers in semis
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Paul Joven, the head coach of the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors, and his boys are steadfast in facing the formidable University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) Season 23 men’s basketball tournament semifinals on December 5, 2023, at the Cebu Coliseum.
In an interview with CDN Digital, Joven remained very optimistic despite the uncertainty of their situation of making it to the semifinals round due to the controversy involving EJ Agbong of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R).
Fortunately for Warriors, the Cesafi officials announced on Friday that they’ve forfeited the games Agbong played for his team after they found out that the latter failed to meet the eligibility requirement based on his transcript of records (TOR).
This eliminated USJ-R from being the No. 4 team that earned them a slot in the semifinals, with the Warriors moving up to replace them.
The last time the Warriors advanced to the semifinals was in the Cesafi 2019 season. They faced eventual champions, the Southwestern University-Phinma Cobras, in the semifinals round, but lost 65-56.
“After sa among mga pangutana bisan wala pay final decision, we always stayed ready. We rested for a day, after ana padayon na among practice non-stop,” said Joven.
“UV has a deeper bench, they can go as deep as 12-man rotation, ang amo lang gyud ani kay maningkamot mi ug at least be at par with them during the game,” he added.
Despite his optimism, Joven admitted that his team struggled this season due to injuries and their lack of big men in the painted area.
“We lack the big men sa ilawm, mao na among problema. Actually, karon nga season, we fought a lot of injuries, daghan challenges karon nga season. We need to deepen our roster gyud, especially big men,” Joven explained.
In their elimination round matchup, USC gave UV one of their toughest games despite the latter finishing with a perfect 10-0 (win-loss) record to clinch the twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
The Green Lancers managed to beat the Warriors 75-67, but not without putting up a good fight after they led in the first period.
Despite the odds, Joven told his players to give their all and enjoy the experience of playing in the Cesafi’s semifinals.
“Kung mahatagan ug chance [nga] makadaog, same sa first half sa last game namo, naka compete mi ug kadali. If given the chance lang,” said Joven.
“Some of my players wala pa gyud nakaduwa ug semifinals sa Cesafi, some of them are from international schools and haven’t played in major tournaments. I just told them nga it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play in a semifinals like this. Wala ta kahibaw next year, so be ready mentally and physically, and most importantly enjoy the game and the competition.”
Lastly, Joven credited the Cesafi officials for their action on Agbong’s case although it was a bit late according to him.
“It was a bit late, but what San Jose did when they didn’t let Agbong play in the last three games, I think they already made an action on this. For Cesafi, they’re truly upholding the student-athlete’s life, eskwela sad gyud ka, naa mi duha ka players wala kaduha this year because of bad grades,” Joven concluded.
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