Wednesday, March 23, 2011


IN 1989 I AM going to complete my varsitarial residence of five years, the maximum allowed by the Cebu Amateur Athletics Association (CAAA)1, in my school, the Cebu State College of Science and Technology (CSCST)2. 1989 will be my last year in competitive collegiate basketball and I intend make a graceful exit. In the four years that I played with my school I have gifted it with a win except in the 1982 season when I was yet a rookie.

On this occasion, ten collegiate teams of Cebu participated, namely: the University of Visayas (UV) Green Lancers, the University of Cebu (UC) Marines3, the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars, the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) Wildcats, the University of Southern Philippines (USP) Panthers, the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors, the Cebu Technical School (CTS) Scanners, newcomer Cebu Doctor's University (CDU) White Stallions, newcomer Salazar Institute of Technology (SIT) Skyblazers4 and the CSCST Builders.

Two groups of five teams each were created and CSCST were grouped alongside UV, USJ-R, CTS and SIT in a single round robin format. The top two teams in our group and the top two teams in the other group would then play with each other in a semifinal round and the next top two would then play in the championship finals while the rest play for third place. Such was the innovation in the playing schedules in the CAAA at that time brought on by the addition of two new teams. All the matches are played in the USC Gym located at the corner of Junquera and Sanciangko Street, right in the heart of Cebu City.

In my final year, the CSCST Builders have a respectable lineup. Old reliables Dodong Abarintos (6'1”) and power forward Expedito Bejoc (5'11”) are back and so with guard Rey Cenit (5'7”) who played hero in CSCST's squeaker over the USP Panthers in 1986. New guys like ex-SWU5 Cobra Joshua Villanueva (6'2”), ex-UV Baby Lancer Hector Baclohan (5'9”) and one lucky find from San Francisco, Camotes – Felix Rocacurva (5'10”) - added depth, speed and firepower as members of the Builders starting five. Point guard Rayno Cabahug (5'7”), sweet-shooting Denten Densing (5'10”), center Roy Tabanao (6'0”) and off-guard Oswald Bajo (5'9”) complement this team very well as back-ups.

I found myself relegated as second center but I welcomed it nonetheless as I could not keep up anymore with the very fast pace that this new team had been training and I just reinvent myself by concentrating more on defense to give muscle inside the paint for the Builders. I am a natural scorer but there are now more good shooters in the present lineup than was before and I have to compensate myself to plugging the holes instead where we are most wanting. I took this task very easily and I became the team's enforcer. A thorn in the paint against offensive plays of opposing teams.

Officially, on record, we were coached by faculty member Edgardo Mondero. Mr. Mondero got this appointment from the CSCST Board of Directors even when he has no experience in coaching a basketball team save, perhaps, in an intramural tournament in 1985 where I was made his proxy. As he had done before, he appointed another proxy in the person of his best student – Rey delos Reyes – who is, himself, an avid follower of basketball. In due time, de los Reyes and the team developed a harmonious chemistry that almost propelled the CSCST Builders to the next round.

Our first schedule were with the USJ-R Jaguars. They have with them sweet playmaker Champion Cañoneo and other notable collegiate standouts whose names escaped my memory. This Jaguars team is considered by many as a serious title contender. They immediately locked away our ball handlers and the outlet passes in the first half without let-up and we were all spent and tired trying to wriggle away from their tenacious defense and their lead sprinted away in the first half at USJ-R – 69, CSCST - 31. In the second half we were able to answer their baskets with baskets of our own until buzzer time: USJ-R – 135, CSCST - 99.

Our second game match is against the CTS Scanners (0-1). The Scanners are very well-coached by Roldan Montalban and this is a farm team from which the UC Marines pluck their players from. Both have the same system of training and scrimmages and both are sister schools. Once again, I faced this team with one or two old faces from our previous wars. I kept my slate clean against them with the help of Abarintos, Villanueva and Bacalla who did the real damage by scoring at will against their defense: CSCST – 91, CTS - 85. After this match, we were able to move in the win column at third place behind USJ-R (2-0) and UV (1-0) at 1-1.

The SIT Skyblazers (0-2) are our third opponent. This is a new team. What they lacked in height they made up with their fast tempo. Three of the famed Sanchez basketball-playing brothers of Mambaling are with this team but we were superior in play executions and scored at will underneath and we kept the lead until halftime arrived: CSCST – 38, SIT – 33. In the second half the Skyblazers started to harass our ball handlers with double-teaming while keeping at bay other guys who will unload the pressure. They rough handled my teammates and they ate away our lead until they held on to the driver's seat for the first time: SIT – 51, CSCST – 50 and the crowd roared in approval and this is not good. We sued for time out.

In the third quarter, I set up hard picks to ease the pressure on my cutting teammates and we were able to destroy their momentum by answering their baskets evenly with ours until they lost steam in the 10-minute mark and gradually we were able to pile up point after point until we were ahead by a mile at the end of the game: CSCST – 88, SIT -68. The boys were all buoyed up and looked forward to our next and last match against the UV Green Lancers who touted a 2-0 mark behind USJ-R's 3-0 with our own 2-1 record. Suddenly, we will have a mathematical chance of crossing over to the next level if we beat the Lancers granting that the Lancers beat the Jaguars and translates to a 3-way tie. Just an IF.

The UV Green Lancers, for a long time, have been the darling of the crowds whenever they play, be it as underdogs or as a vastly superior team. It doesn't matter to the Cebuanos and they are very proud of the Lancers for it represents the whole of Cebu. They are, so to speak, Cebu's Pride. We will be facing them with the crowds against us, as have been in the past, throwing jeers and taunts at our hapless and disoriented players. I prepared to psyche myself up not to play with the crowd's hexing as I entered the wooden tiles of this covered basketball court where many legends were born.

These present Lancers team have been living under the shadows of their more illustrious upperclassmen as practice dummies and they have played together for sometime. This is now their time that they are a force to reckon with. Except for top gun Celerino Cabanca, who is a former CSCST Baby Builder, most of the Lancers team are from the Baby Lancers and from their senior training team like Superales, Chua, Romanos, Cadungog, etc. Ceiling-wise, they were not that superior but they have great stamina and they were a fast-breaking team. They are now looking for their third win at our expense before meeting up with the Jaguars on their next match.

True to form, they impose their will on us with transition plays after every miscue from us. They were playing us man-to-man and after we sued for time they were already leading by a wide margin: UV – 28, CSCST – 13. We tried to adjust our offensive variations and countered some fastbreaks but they were too cohesive to dominate and we gave away the first half to them: UV – 64, CSCST – 38. All the while when we were playing them, the crowds, as always, hurled their not-very-nice expletives against us. That's the privilege of being a Lancer.

In the middle of the second half, I imposed my authority in the paint by stopping cutters, blocking shots and intercepting lob passes from upstairs and it changed the nature of the game. The Lancers were now disoriented as their well-rehearsed plays were not successful anymore and, this time, we were making shots from all around the perimeter and from transitions. By now, wonder of wonders, the crowds were with us and they would hurl insults at every mistake the Lancers have committed and that spurred us to play very well until the Lancers sued for time with the score at UV - 83, CSCST – 68.

The complexion of the game changed but we were able to slice some of their margin by eight in the middle of the fourth quarter: UV – 108, CSCST – 100. At the last five minutes we lost steam and surrendered the game and all our hopes to the Lancers: UV – 120, CSCST – 108. As the game ended, the crowd gave us a standing ovation and it gave us something to be proud of. We lost the game, yes, but it was not in vain. We held our heads high and we snared the respect of our opponents and the crowd. Despite that, we tote a 2-2 win-loss record as if it were a trophy. This is this lineup's (and mine too) last game and we leave it as our legacy.

Document done in OpenOffice 3.1 Writer

1Now known as the Cebu Scholastic Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI).
2Now known as the Cebu Technological University (CTU).
3Now known as the UC Aguilas.
4Now known as the Salazar College of Science and Institute of Technology (SCSIT).
5Southwestern University or SWU is not a member of the CAAA then. It has been disbanded in 1989 and almost all of its players are playing with the CDU White Stallions while others tried out with other teams.

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