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Lancers, Webmasters march into finals war

Aside from the coaching face-off of UV's Gary Cortes and UC's Yayoy Alcoseba, also expected to catch the attention of fans in the CESAFI collegiate finals is the match-up of foreign reinforcements in Bassieru Sackor of the Lancers and Frederick Elombi of the Webmasters. Paul Jun E. Rosaroso

CEBU, Philippines — When going to war, it is important for one to get  familiar with the terrains of the battlefield.

That is perhaps the underlying reason why University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers coach Gary Cortes decided to hold their practice at the Cebu Coliseum for three consecutive nights.

They have their own gymnasium, yet the Lancers opted to test their newly-crafted offensive weapons at the very site that is also the home and training ground of their foes.

On the other side of the fence, Raul 'Yayoy' Alcoseba, the chief strategist of the University of Cebu (Webmasters), is busy pounding that winning attitude on the heads of his players, to never give up until the very end of the fight.

Now that they are crossing swords on higher grounds, getting each of their troops motivated is highly significant, especially at this stage wherein the intangible forces matter most.

Who will deliver and act with a greater sense of purpose will be determined starting today as the best-of-three collegiate division finals between the Lancers and the Webmasters in the 17th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) men's basketball tournament gets underway at the Coliseum.

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Game time is set at 5:15 pm.

Cortes has nothing but respect for his decorated UC counterpart, but said the Lancers are all set and ready to defend their throne come hell or high waters.

"This is the championship Cebu basketball fans are looking for. Coach Yayoy is coach Yayoy. Based on coaching experience, I'm still in the SBP stage while he's already in the college varsity level. Also, UC played consistent basketball in starting in the second round," said Cortes, who steered the Lancers to their third straight finals appearance. "But we have trust on our Lancers, and we are looking to finish this season stronger than ever."

Since sweeping the first nine titles of the league (2000-2009), the Lancers haven't won back-to-back titles, a feat they are chasing this season.

They floundered in their first game of the season against the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriiors last August 6, but the Lancers bounced back with fire in their eyes, sending shivers down the spines of their rivals by racking up a dozen straight victories including a 2-0 shutout of the Webmasters in the double round elimination.

But in the championship where the stakes are higher, numbers and related statistics no longer matter. Everything is back to scratch.

While drawing strength from that thought, Alcoseba still holds the Lancers in high regards owing to their storied legacy in the Cebu hoopdom.

"UV is a very strong team. They're very experienced and they've been there for years," said Alcoseba, whose Webmasters ousted the twice-to-beat University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars in a semis to book a championship date with the Lancers. "But since I coached UC, I taught them the charcter to win. I motivatedthem to always believe that they will win."

Aside from the coaching face-off of Cortes and Alcoseba, also expected to catch the attention of fans is the match-up of foreign reinforcements in Bassieru Sackor of UV and Frederick Elombi of UC.

Sackor may not that be explosive offensively but the 6-foot-7 Liberian he is a tenacious defender on both ends of the court, something that Elombi needs to work on.

Good thing for the Webmasters though is that their 6-foot-8 Cameroonian import is more athletic, a monster in rebounding and a prolific outside shooter they can count on.

Among locals, the Lancers will heaviy depend on reigning MVP Rey Suerte, Josue Segumpan, Tristan Albina, Monic Soliva, Jerome Napao, Jayson Balabag and Sheldon Gahi.

The Webmasters, on the other hand, will squeeze the most from the talents of Garex Puerto, Justine Dacalos, John Calvin Jabello, Petyer Paul Codilla, Mark Olmilla, Joren Tagugin, and Jayvee de la Cruz.

Regardless of tonight's outcome, the Lancers and the Webmasters will again meet in Game 2 this Friday. Game 3, if necessary, is set for October 15. (FREEMAN)

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