Monday, September 21, 2015

Fair Play: An exciting Cesafi competition

(This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu's Sept. 21 edition)
AT the end of the first round of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. college football season, defending champion University of San Carlos was at the bottom of the heap, with two points to show in four matches.

They lost to the University of San Jose-Recoletos and the University of the Visayas and struggled to earn a point against the University of Cebu and the University of Southern Philippines.

But in the second round, USC finally showed why it is the defending champions with wins over the top two teams—2-1 against USJ-R and 3-0 against the University of Cebu—rekindling its title defense alive.

Another surprise of the tournament this year is UV, a team which nobody really gave much attention to yet the 2005 champions are still in the running for the No. 1 spot.

And this season, you can’t discount the Greenbooters and I’m really impressed with what coach Eddie Buot has done with his squad. I got to talk to him before their first game and he admitted that the odds were against him, considering the disparity of support and player base UV has compared to the other teams.

He was sort of right, as UC ran circles around UV in that 4-0 win. But look at how UV recovered after that, beating USC despite getting a goal down in the first half, and then blanking USPF last Saturday. I love underdog stories and aside from USC, I’m hoping the UV Greenbooters make the finals this year. Wouldn’t that be something?

UV was supposed to play USJ-R yesterday, but the rain postponed their match to Friday.

I think that may be good for UV as it would have played its second straight game in two days against a well-rested USJ-R.

And I hope this Friday, the surprise of the tournament will have all the fans it needs in the grandstand.

It’s time for the alumni and school officials to make sure the UV Greenbooters get its own army of cheerers this Friday. And perhaps, maybe UV’s basketball manager and first district Rep. Samsam Gullas can drop by? That could do wonders to the team’s confidence.

As for the Goldenbooters, I’m glad to have been proven wrong. After such a woeful first round I thought only a miracle can see them make it to the final, but now they are in the thick of things. With a game to play against the struggling USPF, USC could snag that finals seat with a win and of course, granting that UC and USJ-R don’t win their final two matches.

The way things stand now, nothing is certain and I think we’re going to find out who plays in the final only after the final game of the elimination round between UC and USJ-R. That’s how uncertain—and exciting—this year’s Cesafi football tournament is, thanks to the format tournament director Francis Ramirez adopted.

It’s a double-round robin with the top two in the finals. That’s a format that I think should be used all the time. Previously, the five-team league had a semifinals, meaning each team can take a vacation in all but one of their games and still be assured of a semifinal spot. Now, they have to be at their best in all their games if they want to win the crown.

And this season, who will make the finals will be determined in the last elimination round game.

It doesn’t get more exciting than that.

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