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The Southwestern University: SWU Cobras

The Southwestern University Cobras were a perennial contender in the Cebu collegiate scene prior to their disbandment in 2000 when they captured the last Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA) championship.

After sometime, SWU rebuilt its basketball program and participated in the first Visayas Amateur Athletic Association (VAAA) tournament in 2006 where they finished second behind the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars. Prior to the 7th regular season of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CeSAFI), the Cobras also participated in the 1st CeSAFI Partners Cup. A rookie-laden Cobras team then performed beyond expectations booting out perennial CeSAFI powerhouse University of Cebu Webmasters to advance to the Final Four of CeSAFI 2007. In the 2007 semifinals, SWU ran out of luck against the vastly-improved University of San Carlos Warriors. They finished fourth as they were also beaten by the USJ-R Jaguars in a closely-fought battle for third place.

In their initial assignment of the VAAA 2nd season, SWU upset title favourites USC Warriors 86-78 and showed nerves of steel in the closing minute of the game.


Holdovers:

The core of the SWU team that placed fourth in the 7th CeSAFI season is intact with only Vaflor and Velayo out of the roster. King Cobra Eric Zanoria will spearhead the Cobras’ campaign in the VAAA as the starter at the small forward spot. Crowd darling Elvid Polegrates, the soft-spoken Richard Gianchand, the high-leaping Mars Canonigo, steady point guard Ardd Diango and the bull-strong Alfred Belande are also likely starters for SWU. Regular starter Ritche Jalandoni now comes off the bench. Eleazar Armecin, Rene Pacquiao, Seignfred Tilap and Jerds Ceniza are also expected to form a strong supporting cast.


Key Acquisitions/Reactivations:

Cleford Maguate has been activated for the Cobras’ VAAA campaign and will also see action in the 8th CeSAFI season as he has already completed his one year residency after transferring from USPF. Maguate adds size and ceiling to SWU’s interior. The 6’4” center is slated to take the starting role at the pivot.

Another new face on SWU’s active roster is the 6’4” Melvin Divinagracia who did not see action in the initial game of the 2nd season of the VAAA. On his profile sheet, he is listed as a center and power forward.

Rowen Tubongbanua is the 2nd rookie on the Cobras’ squad who also did not play in SWU’s upset win over USC in the 2nd VAAA season. He will be the Cobras’ third point guard off the bench after Ardd Diango and Elvid Polegrates.

Tim Niño Sanico is also a rookie but is not listed in SWU’s VAAA roster. The reserve guard hopes to earn a slot in SWU’s active roster in the next CeSAFI season.


Key Losses:

Big man Gilbert Gallarde’s academic woes continue to pile up and he has been booted off the team. Role players Emelan Velayo and Mebalgas Vaflor are no longer with the team as well.


Southwestern University Cobras Roster:


Eric Zanoria
BS Commerce-Business Management 1

Danao City, Cebu
6’2”, 150 lbs.
Guard/Forward
Date of Birth: May 26, 1984
Playing Years Left: 1

King Cobra Eric Zanoria is the reigning CeSAFI slam dunk champion and Mythical 5 member and has probably become the gold standard of small forwards in Cebu collegiate circuits. Zanoria is a versatile player who can play all perimeter positions. He usually ends up with the ball in his hands during clutch situations. In their initial game of the VAAA second season, Zanoria teamed up with crowd darling Elvid Polegrates in the clutch to deliver the crucial blows as SWU upset USC.


Elvid Polegrates
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Poro, Camotes Island, Cebu
5’11”, 187 lbs.
Point Guard
Date of Birth: November 29, 1986
Playing Years Left: 4

Elvid Polegrates probably has the sickest handles in the Cebuano collegiate circles. During the 7th CeSAFI season, he had a penchant to showboat without results. While displaying his good dribbling skills, he usually ends up turning the ball over or missing a shot. In his initial game in the VAAA’s second season however, he showed that he can now make the big shot shaking off his man with his dribbling skills for several crucial layups. And while USC went on a fouling binge, Elvid was steady at the freethrow line.


Cleford Maguate
BS Commerce-Business Management 2
Toroso, Negros Occidental

6’4” 190 lbs
Center
Date of Birth: July 1, 1988
Playing Years Left: 3

Ex-University of Southern Philippines Foundation King Panther Cleford Maguate is now a Cobra. Cleford sat out the past CeSAFI tournament because of transferee residency rules. The entry of Maguate in the SWU lineup makes the Cobras a lot bigger. He will relegate Ritche Jalandoni to a relief role. Maguate is a good ballhandler for his size. He can run on the break and can pass out off the double team. Maguate appears to prefer playing facing the basket.


Mariano “Mars” Canonigo III
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Minglanilla, Cebu
6’2”, 190 lbs
Power Forward
Date of Birth: April 21, 1987
Playing Years Left: 4

Mars Canonigo is a high-leaping forward who loves to play on the block. Canonigo is the Cobras’ main defensive guy and is a strong enforcer at the power forward spot. The Cobras can make good use of his strength and athleticism.


Richard Gianchand
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 3

Ozamis City
6’2” 177 lbs
Forward
Date of Birth: January 18, 1985
Playing Years Left: 1

Richard Gianchand is a soft-spoken combo forward who lets his game do the talking. He usually puts up points across the board when everyone else is having a bad game and would be happy to take the supporting role when somebody else is scorching hot.


Rene Pacquiao
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Kebawe, Bukidnon
6’5”, 150 lbs.
Center
Date of Birth: September 12, 1986
Playing Years Left: 4

Pacquiao is the Cobras’ tallest player at 6’5” and will now come off the bench as SWU’s third string center. While the lesser known Pacquiao gains more experience and exposure in the VAAA, expect him to get better in the 8th CeSAFI season.


Ritche Jalandoni
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 2
Iligan City

6’4”, 191 lbs.
Center
Date of Birth: October 30, 1986
Playing Years Left: 3

Ritche Jalandoni was SWU’s starting center when Cleford Maguate was sitting out the 7th CeSAFI season. He will now take on a relief role as Maguate is inserted into the lineup. Jalandoni is a big man who has a good midrange shot, good post moves, and an average ballhandling ability.


Alfred Belande
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 2

Sogod, Cebu
6’2”, 190 lbs.
Forward
Date of Birth: September 3, 1986
Playing Years Left: 3

Alfred Belande is a solid player hiding in the shadows of his better known teammates like Eric Zanoria, Richard Gianchand and Elvid Polegrates. Alfred is a wing player with an average outside shot and some solid post moves. In SWU’s upset of USC in the VAAA 2nd season’s initial game, Belande relied on his upper body strength drawing fouls and making shots while the Cobras’ were making a run to cut the USC deficit after 3 quarters.


Ardd Evan Diango
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon
5’8”, 142 lbs.
Point Guard
Date of Birth: October 15, 1987
Playing Years Left: 4

Ardd Evan Diango is the smallest Cobra and the starting point guard in the rotation. He is less flashy than Elvid Polegrates but is a steady point guard nonetheless.


Jerds Ceniza
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Naga, Cebu
6’3”, 150 lbs
Forward/Guard
Date of Birth: December 14, 1987
Playing Years Left: 4

Jerds Ceniza is a seldom used tall wingman. SWU already has a strong wing position with Zanoria, Belande, Gianchand and Litorja. Ceniza will probably see more action after the departure of Zanoria after the 8th CeSAFI season.


Eleazar Armecin
BS Commerce-Business Management 1

Danao City, Cebu
6’2”, 145 lbs.
Small Forward
Date of Birth: February 21, 1988
Playing Years Left: 4

Danao-born Armecin is a role player who occasionally pitches in at the small forward spot. The reed-thin forward comes off a deep rotation at the small forward spot.


Crescente “Cris” Litorja
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 2
Iligan City

6’0”, 172 lbs.
Guard/Forward
Date of Birth: June 27, 1987
Playing Years Left: 2

Litorja is a good midrange shooter who is not really flashy. While he may come off a deep rotation at small forward spot, he will probably see more minutes at the off guard spot which is not as deep as SWU’s small forward position.


Melvin Divinagracia
BS Commerce 1

Mabunturan
6’4”, 155 lbs.
Center/Forward
Date of Birth: October 14, 1986
Playing Years Left: 4

Rookie Melvin Divinagracia has yet to show his stuff in Cebu. He did not play in the opening game of the 2nd VAAA season. Reports say he will play a big man’s role at the block, probably coming off the bench to spell Maguate, Jalandoni and Pacquiao.


Rowen Tubongbanua
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 2

Ozamis City
5’10”, 136 lbs.
Point Guard
Date of Birth: July 4, 1989
Playing Years Left: 5

Rowen Tubongbanua is one of SWU’s 2 rookies on its active roster for the VAAA 2nd season. He will take on a relief job to spell main point guards Ardd Diango and Elvid Polegrates.


Siegnfred Tilap
BS Commerce-Business Management

Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon
5’10”, 145 lbs.
Shooting Guard
Date of Birth: 1987
Playing Years Left: 1

Tilap is a combo guard who will see major minutes at the off guard position while also pitching in his share at point guard.


Joseph Escober
BS Civil Engineering 3

Camotes Island, Cebu
5’11”, 150 lbs.
Point Guard
Date of Birth: March 1, 1987
Playing Years Left: 3

With the entry of Maguate and Divinagracia, Escober is now relegated to reserve status.


Tim Niño Sanico
BS Hotel and Restaurant Management 1

Catmon, Cebu
5’11”, 150 lbs.
Guard
Date of Birth: May 24, 1986
Playing Years Left: 3

Sanico is the new guy on the team who is working hard to earn a spot in the active roster. Cebuano fans may soon see him in a Cobras uniform for the next CeSAFI wars.

The Cobras are fast regaining their basketball reputation of times past. Coach Dodie Miego has done a good job of putting up a well-balanced team with good size, a deep wing position and a backcourt pair with varied styles. The team is blessed with lots of individual talent, big men who can handle the leather, and all players with good midrange jumpers. Now, the coach can work to maximize these talents and blend them to build a formidable squad.

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