Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fair Play: UV Lancers: From champs to chumps?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Oct. 29)
THIS year’s University of the Visayas will not only be remembered as the team that failed to advance to the Cesafi basketball finals for the first time, but as a team of sore losers who resorted to dirty tactics because they failed to get the job done.

And in the process, this year’s team tarnished what nine other UV teams have accomplished and what last year’s team gracefully showed in defeat.

Previous Lancers won the first nine Cesafi basketball titles and when they lost it, they exited as former champions, gracefully.

This is what former coach Boy Cabahug said after losing to UC last year.

“It was our destiny to be in the finals and UC was destined to be the champions. Just try to imagine, we only had one win in the semifinals and yet we made it to the finals.”

This is what UV coach Felix Belano said (translated) after last Tuesday’s fracas.

“Even I didn’t want that to happen. But it’s a lesson for Cesafi. To improve the league, they should correct and improve the officiating. I kept calling the attention of the referees but they didn’t pay attention. They didn’t make the right calls. That’s why
I got disappointed because they didn’t show respect. The calls weren’t fair. If we look at the bottom of it, would the crowd have reacted that way if the officiating was fair?”

Respect? Doesn’t that go both ways, coach? You can’t really ask for respect, you have to earn it.

In 2010, after trailing by 21 points, 58-37, the UV Lancers showed their true character by not wilting, and fighting to within one, 70-69, and even gaining the lead, 72-71, before falling short to lose Game 4, 73-72, and the series, 3-1.

Now that’s character. That’s not giving up. That’s respecting the game and the opposing side and giving the fans what they want—a ball game.

Last Tuesday, after falling by as much as 22 points, UV resorted to bullying. Showing the ugly side of a team that refuses to acknowledge that it can be defeated.

Why?

When the team’s character was tested, the players and the coach wilted?

Why?

When they couldn’t find an answer to what SWU was doing to them on the basketball court, the best they could find was play dirty and blame the referees?

Why?

From championship-caliber, they’ve become chumps?

Of course, the officials are to be blamed. They always are.

And, we all know that 95 percent of the time when officials are blamed, it’s because losers just can’t accept they were out-smarted, out-played and out-hustled.

Coach Belano and the present crop of players also forgot that when they put on that Green Lancer uniform, they not only represent themselves or their school, but they represent a community, and more importantly, an idea.

The idea that UV is all heart. That UV is a university with a heart.

And what kind of heart did their actions show?

That when the going gets tough, UV’s guys get all toughie?

And it seems, UV team manager Samsam Gullas agrees.

“We added insult to injury with what our players have done. This is not what we teach our students,” he said.

Samsam apologized for his team’s action and promised to come up with a better team for next year’s season. Perhaps aside from looking for skilled players, they should also look for those who don’t wilt under pressure.

Players who excel when the going gets tough, not players who channel their inner Manny Pacquiao when the other team is winning.
UV, because of its nine titles, became the face of Cebu collegiate basketball for nearly a decade but because of what the team has done last Tuesday, it has become a wart that deserves to be hidden.

Champions fall all the time. But sometimes, champions come out the winner despite losing. UV showed that last year.

This year, the Lancers showed how a team can lose so much more, after losing a game.

What a loss.

(www.mikelimpag@gmail.com)

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