Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fair Play: Will it still be a USC-USJ-R showdown in Cesafi?

(This column appears in the Sept. 14 issue of Sun.Star Cebu)
IT'S still the first round of elimination, but just as I expected, it looks like it’s going to be a USC vs. USJ-R battle for the Cesafi college football title.

USC, which won its last title on penalties against USPF in 2011, is ahead of the standings with 3 wins, its latest, against USPF.

USJ-R, which holds the record for winning the first four titles in the league and has eight overall, is second with seven points after a 3-0 win over UV the other day.

Unlike the previous seasons, the elimination round rankings do matter this time as it’s going to be a clash between the top two teams for the Cesafi title, while the Nos. 3 and 4 face off for the third-place trophy. In the previous seasons, there was a semifinal round for the five-team league so a team can afford to lose most of its elimination round matches and still win the title.

But not this time.

So, if you want to know who’s the favorite to take the crown this year, head off to the Cebu City Sports Center field at 3 p.m. today. That’s when USC and USJ-R face each other in the elimination round and last year, these two squads set a record of sorts in the Cesafi final, won by the Jaguars.

That Cesafi final was the most-attended local match that I can remember and there were more fans in the stands than during the AFC Presidents’ Cup matches. And they were very noisy too.

I hope the crowd comes again today, not just for the USC-USJ-R clash but for the UC-USPF face off too.

USPF has been one of the under-achieving teams in the Cesafi and is always a contender and who can forget UC and what it did in 2010?

UC was No. 4 in the elimination round, and like I said, a team’s rank won’t matter in the semifinals. UC beat the top team in the semis, and went on to beat USJ-R in the finals, becoming the only No 4 team to do so.

UC is at third in the standings with 4 points, while USPF is fourth with six and because it’s a double-round robin elimination, the two are still in the hunt for a spot in the finals.

It’s too early to tell but I think after today’s matches, we will going to have an idea who the favorites will be for the collegiate title.

If USC wins today, it will solidify its hold of the top spot, and a loss by USJ-R will be a big boost to the winner of the UC vs. USPF match, as it will narrow the gap for the chase for the second finals seat.

In the high school division, it’s still a no-brainer, it’s still going to be a tossup between Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu as USC is still about two to three years away from earning the fruits of its grassroots program started by Edwin Arganza at USC-BED.

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