Metro Manila has two dominant collegiate leagues: the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The UAAP started in 1938; the NCAA, even earlier, in 1924. At the UAAP, the schools include UP, UE, UST, NU, Ateneo, La Salle, FEU and Adamson. In the NCAA, the list has San Sebastian, PCU, Letran, Arellano, Mapua, San Beda and JRU. (Why the two leagues won’t merge so that the champion is the true winner of collegiate sports, I don’t know.)
Here in Cebu, we only have one league. Previously, it was named CAAA. Those letters stood for Cebu Amateur Athletics Association. But, starting 11 years ago, a new group was formed. Today, all the big-named universities join the CESAFI.
In basketball, last year was the most memorable. For the first time, a school not named University of the Visayas was crowned the champion. For the first nine years of CESAFI, the school owned by Dodong and Eddie Gullas won the grand prize.
But last year, the University of Cebu, captained by founder Gus Go, snatched the title away from UV. “We’ve been trying to win all these years,” said Atty. Go to me last October. “But we always could not win in basketball. Finally, we made it!”
In the high school (juniors) division, last season was just as monumental. After losing by 151 points in one game the previous year (score: 178-23), the Cebu Eastern College Baby Dragons spewed fire on the opponents. Last October 10 (that’s the date 10-10-10), CEC achieved the unachievable by pocketing the championship, thanks to their alumni led by the Cebu Province “Garbo sa Sugbu” awardee Chester Cokaliong. That’s last season.
What’s new starting today, when the 2011-2012 season begins at 12 noon with a mass? “The new president of CESAFI is Fr. Enrico Peter Silab, OAR,” said CESAFI commissioner Felix “Boy” Tiukinhoy. “He is the president of USJR. He will be serving for one term.”
Today’s Opening will be different: instead of just basketball players parading the Cebu Coliseum, the players from the different sports will join.
“The reason for just one opening is to save on cost for gym expenses and costumes for the Palabas,” said Tiukinhoy. “The Palabas for the schools will be ‘free for all’ dance numbers so that the school can choose their numbers and costumes at affordable costs.”
The theme for 2011? “Reviving Ecology through Sports and Academic Excellence.”
Another addition is the choice of a Mr. CESAFI. While the previous opening acts had a Ms. CESAFI (I’ve had the privilege of being a judge on two occasions), today is the first time a collegiate male student will win the prize. “The winner for the college Mr. and Ms. CESAFI,” said Tiukinhoy, “will be the CESAFI candidates for the PRISAA.”
In basketball, seven college teams will join: UC, SWU, USC, UV, USJ-R, CIT and USP-F. In high school, there are nine: CEC, CIT, UV, DBTC, USC, UC, SHS-ADC, USJ-R and USP-F.
All games will be held at the Cebu Coliseum. The schedule? Every Tuesday and Thursday, the first of two games begin at 5:15 P.M. On Saturdays and Sundays, the first of four games start at 1 P.M.
Tickets are inexpensive: General Admission is P20 while the most expensive, Lower Box, is P60. Best of all: students with IDs get 50% off.
Today, the first game pits CEC against UV. Then, for college, it’s USJ-R against the defending champs, UC.
What else is new? Boy Cabahug, who led UV to nine straight trophies as the head coach, will be missed. He was abruptly discharged after his school’s first-ever loss. Taking over is Felix Belano. Also new but forever-known as the most famous coach of Vis-Min is Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba. The Cebu City Councilor will mentor the team that’s acknowledged as this year’s most intimidating: SWU.
My prediction? Nobody taller will reign than the remaining Twin Tower of Cebu. No, he’s not Greg Slaughter—that 7-footer has since shifted from UV green to Ateneo blue.
Our Dirk Nowitzki? Junmar Fajardo, 6’10”.