Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fair Play: Can UV hurdles this latest test of character?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Sept. 20 edition)
THAT semifinal loss to the University of San Carlos Warriors has got to be the lowest point in the University of the Visayas Lancers’ 14-year stint in the Cesafi, worse even than that loss to rivals Southwestern University Cobras when a few Lancers started rough-housing their foes.

UV issued an apology then, issued an apology now.

What makes this worse is that a couple of UV players got in a fracas--not with the foes--but with each other. A first, I think, in the history of the league.


Jeffakins Aguara and Francisco Arong got into a shoving match and though the school has started an investigation, I heard from the grapevine that their African import got a one-way ticket home the very next day.

If true, I can’t blame the UV management for it. And, based on the reports, of what happened, I really can’t blame Arong too.

So what happened that time? You have Aguara heaving a trey that missed badly and then letting in an uncontested dunk in the next--a sequence that pretty much ended the fight for UV.

What’s wrong with that? Well, he’s your import, he’s supposed to get you over that hump, to take you places, to give you the title, not lead the team to its downfall.

By stepping away to give way for that uncontested dunk, it pretty much shows that he’s clocking out, treating his stint with the Lancers as a 9 to 5 and an extra effort isn’t worth it.

That pissed off Arong as it would any other self-respecting teammate.

I’ve seen such cases happen in football, when players who are brought in for that extra punch—derisively called ‘panalay players’—clock out in the dying minutes and are handed a new rear-end by frustrated teammates who are tired of their antics.

UV team manager Samsam Gullas said it was a spur of the moment thing. That may be
true, but I don’t think that it was only because of that moment. Was it the boiling point? Because when teammates snap at each other, it is sometimes a culmination of a series of events in previous games, practices, team meetings or even informal talks.

This is the downside of having imports in the Cesafi, some fail to appreciate the spots they are in, or the school’s history.

If it was a center who had worked through the UV farm system, starting from scratch to get to that starting spot, would he have acted that way?

The UV Lancers management has to do some soul-searching, the criteria that Gullas set for this team this year--academic, performance and attitude--was great but it seems in that crucial moment, their key players forgot what is was like to be a Lancer.

You don’t just represent yourself, but also the school and everything it stands for.

You wear that uniform, you wear it with pride, not just for your teammates, the previous members of the Lancer or current students but for everyone who used to be connected with UV who always point out to their friends and family whenever they see the team, “That’s my team!”

You get a lot perks being an athlete, but these go with a lot of responsibilities. And I’m sure, when Arong and Aguara got into that fight, there must have been a collective face-palm from UV fans all over who were all asking, “Na-unsa naman tawun ni silay oy!”

The Lancers know how to win, their 10 Cesafi crowns are a testament to that, but this latest incident is not a test of their skills in the court, but their character off and on it.

Can they pass this?

For the sake of their school, they must. It’s no longer about winning their next games and salvaging third place. Their next games are about salvaging the Lancer identity and pride, a victory is just a side dish.

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