MANILA, Philippines -- Were you watching this?
That seems to be the message that Southwestern University Cobras sent not only to their Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. rivals but also to Metro Manila that they will not be manhandled any longer.
The Cobras blitzed their way through the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers posting as much as a 20-point lead before claiming a 72-68 victory in their first match of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup last Wednesday at the San Juan Arena.
SWU Coach Yayoy Alcoseba revealed that his squad learned so much from their debut in the Manila pre-season tournament in 2013 and had come this year physically and mentally stronger and with a better bench. The Cobras are led by point guard Mac Tallo, forward Adam Mohammed, power forward Daryl Goloran, center Landry Sanjo, and the new sweet shooting backcourt duo of Jasper Parker and Antonio Pardo.
“This was a statement game for us,” admitted Alcoseba. “We want to not only win the CESAFI but if we can, also do well in Filoil.”
Their first game this year is a stark contrast to last year’s stint where they struggled against a depowered Ateneo lineup. The Cobras, in fact, lost their first five matches by an average of 16.4 points. They salvaged some pride by winning their final three assignments including a 64-63 squeaker over eventual UAAP Finalist, UST. SWU’s average winning margin was a mere 5.3 points.
Their four-point win over JRU was on par for the course as the Cobras survived a furious fourth quarter rally where the Heavy Bombers dropped a 25-9 bomb in the last seven minutes of the match.
"That means for all our improvements, there is still much to learn,” pointed out SWU assistant coach Mike Reyes, younger brother of national coach, Chot Reyes.
Standing in SWU’s way is the 3-0 Perpetual Help Altas who most recently took down struggling Filoil defending champion, University of the East, 83-78. Unlike JRU that has a deeper bench, the Altas count on their Fab Four of Juneric Baloria, Justine Alano, Earl Thompson, and Harold Arboleda who account for 90% of their team’s offense.
“Kailangan yung bench namin kumilos at magparamdam,” underscored Perpetual Help head coach Aric del Rosario.
SWU and Perpetual Help battle at 2:15pm at the San Juan Arena. Other seniors matches taking place include National University and Holy Trinity College of General Santos City who both make their Filoil debut today in a game slated at 12:30pm. Hard-luck Letran and Mapua, both winless at 0-2 and 0-1 respectively, will separate ways in a 4pm encounter.
Over at the Women’s Division, Adamson and La Salle battle at 10:45am while La Salle Greenhill and Mapua play in the nightcap at 5:30pm.