CESAFI and its reputation for basketball excellence
CEBU CITY, Philippines - Manila isn’t the only Philippine city that knows how to host a collegiate inter-school sports league.
Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc., or CESAFI, is Cebu's answer to the Manila-based University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). But the basketball tournament, which kicks off this Saturday, August 1, has established its own reputation for producing top hoops talent.
Many of the biggest names in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) made their names as collegiate players in Cebu, including Ramon Fernandez, Manny Paner, Yoyong Martirez, Jojo Lastimosa, Boy Cabahug, Al Solis, and Dondon Hontiveros, were once stars of the now defunct Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA).
In recent years came June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Brian Heruela and Eliud Poligates, who earned their breaks into the big league via CESAFI, which replaced CAAA in 2001.
Before showcasing his skills for the San Miguel Beermen, Fajardo first made a splash in the CESAFI as a center for the University of Cebu Webmasters. He was named CESAFI MVP for three straight years from 2009 to 2011.
Fajardo made Cebu proud when he became the first overall pick during the PBA Draft 2012 and has won back-to-back PBA MVP awards over the past two seasons.
Slaughter, on the other hand, played for 10-time CESAFI champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers when his family opted to relocate to Cebu, his mother's home province.
Slaughter played for UV from 2007 to 2009 and was named MVP also for 3 consecutive years getting the attention of the Ateneo de Manila University where he transferred in 2010. Slaughter then played in the UAAP with the Blue Eagles before he was made first overall pick in the 2013 PBA Draft.
The 7-foot hoopster was named the 2014 PBA Rookie of the Year and is currently playing for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Before he was made the 26th pick in the 2014 PBA draft, Heruela used to also play for the UC Webmasters, alongside Fajardo. Before joining UC in his collegiate years, the Cebuano point guard also played in the CESAFI junior league as a member of the UV Baby Lancers.
The former Webmaster played for the PBA's Blackwater Elite this past season before being traded to Barako Bull Energy Cola.
Poligrates, who previously played for the Southwestern University Cobras, was He was picked 27th overall by Talk 'N Text in the 2013 Draft and currently plays for Cafe France Bakers in the PBA D-League.
The Camotes Island native's stint in the CESAFI, however, came to an abrupt halt when he was meted a lifetime ban for playing in another league, violating one of the rules of the CESAFI.
Another player who left his imprint on CESAFI was JR Quiñahan, who is known more these days for being one half of Rain or Shine's "Extra Rice" duo with Beau Belga. Prior to joining the PBA as the seventh pick overall in the 2007 Draft, the 6-foot-6 big man was manning the front court for University of the Visayas.
The defending basketball champions, SWU Cobras, will be joined by first runner-up University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors, UC Webmasters, University of San Jose Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars, UV Green Lancers and the University of Southern Philippines (USPF) Panthers, which opted to sit out last year's season.
In the junior division, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu will be defending its title against first runner-up UV, Don Bosco Technological Center, USJ-R, UC, Cebu Eastern College, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, USC and SWU.
CESAFI will also host sporting events in football, volleyball, swimming, chess, table tennis, lawn tennis and athletics, among others. – Rappler.com