Reigning 7 time CESAFI champions the University of the Visayas Green Lancers and runner-ups for the last two seasons the University of San Carlos Warriors so far has been into the limelight of things after doing some major upgrades in their line-ups. The influx of Fil-Ams has started in the CESAFI and Cebu collegiate scene. First came Greg Slaughter of UV and Eddie Bakker of USC, and now USC unfolds a new one.
UV: Height is might
With the departure of key slotmen Ariel Mepaña, Rino Berame, and ace rookie Michael Luga, the University of the Visayas added depth and experience in their line-up after acquiring another commercial league veteran Jojo Omandam. Rated as a complete workhorse and literally a beast because of his size and height, Omandam is expect to wreak havoc in the upcoming inter collegiate tourneys. Omandam has played alongside ex-PBA stars and players like Nelson Asaytono, Michael Orquillas, Peter Naron, and Noynoy Falcasantos for the Pagadian Explorers in the National Basketball Conference (NBC). It was also reported that Omandam had a brief stint with Dazz in the PBL. Other than Omandam, the Green Lancers are expected to parade in some new names led by Harlow and Harold Villanil and high school sensation Phil Mercader.
With the solid improvement of 6'11 Greg Slaughter along with mainstays Von Harry Lanete, Chris Diputado, Ritchum Dennison, and the possible return of veteran guard Morskie Akad, UV's new line-up is expected to be too strong to contend with, even a lot stronger than what they had last season. Plus an average of 6'4 to 6'5 height won't hurt the Green Lancers either.
Boy Cabahug has indeed kept the Green Lancers safe and strong and made them even more lethal. What's in store for them is to showcase their might once again and prove that they're indeed the king of basketball in Cebu.
USC: First came the form, now the substance
Dubbed and criticized in their early years as "pa-choy" and "paporma", the University of San Carlos Warriors have proved detractors wrong as they made back to back finals appearances in the CESAFI and even gave the famed mighty UV Green Lancers a scare in the recent CESAFI finals. The once famed CESAFI doormats and early exit team has turned into a perennial title contender and is the favorite to dethrone the UV Green Lancers.
In it's bid looking for a replacement in streak shooter and well established star Niño Ramirez, the University of San Carlos has tapped the services of 6'4 Filipino Australian Emel Rowe. At 6'4, Rowe is a natural shooting guard or shooting guard and is expected to create a lot of mismatches in the court. He's too tall for average guards and he's too quick for big men and has a good decent shooting touch. Rowe has played in numerous basketball leagues in Australia. During his first ever practice stint with the Warriors, Rowe has immediately impressed USC head coach Jay Ramirez and basketball consultant Mike Reyes. "In two years, PBA na 'to", according to Mike Reyes who witnessed not just Rowe's skills but also his work ethic as well, 20 years old at that. Other than Rowe, who created much hype upon his arrival, USC is also expected to field in a much younger Joven Cortes who plays center at the measly height of 6'2. Cortes himself has posted impressive numbers in numerous commercial leagues.
With Rowe and Cortes, USC will be a team to look out for. Set aside the hype that has been set, but these guys could make USC's CESAFI title dreams into reality. With both Rowe and Cortes playing with reigning CESAFI MVP Enrico Llanto, sweet shooting Carlo Padayao, and energetic and wily point guard Paul Joven, expect USC to come out much hungrier and deadlier than before. And one more thing to look out for for the USC Warriors is the possible break out season of Sam Hermosa.
USC's basketball program has finally reaped it's fruits, possibly, the time is indeed ripe this time.
A war expected
Both UV and USC so far are the only teams that has been making it to the headlines. Is this rivalry getting more intense? Will Greg Slaughter satisfy everybody's expectations? Is Emel Rowe the great warrior USC has been looking for? These are just a few of the many things expected in the upcoming 2008 CESAFI.