UV forward repays coach’s faith in him

By JONAS PANERIO July 11,2018

UV forward Michael Maestre puts up a shot against UC’s Frederick Elombi during the recent Partner’s Cup finals. contributed

In a talk right around the start of the 2018 Cesafi Partner’s Cup, the University of the Visayas Green Lancers’ head coach Gary Cortes was asked who he pegged to step up among the big men with the loss of several studs from their title-winning core.

Without a second thought, Cortes blurted out “Michael Maestre.”

On Tuesday night, Maestre paid his coach back for his utmost confidence in him as he delivered the performance of his young career, scoring 20 points punctuated by the go-ahead basket that helped the Green Lancers capture the preseason title.

Apart from the scoring, Maestre also helped anchor UV’s defense on the University of Cebu’s star forward, Frederick Elombi, limiting him to a total of 28 points in the entire series.

But in a conversation right after the game, Cortes narrated that Maestre nearly lost his spot in the team late last year. Without going into further detail, Cortes said Maestre encountered “distractions” and at one point, even left the Green Lancers’ abode.

“I saw that his game was down, especially during the PCCL. He really didn’t perform well. That’s when I told him that if you didn’t go back to UV’s quarters, he just might lose his game and his spot,” shared Cortes.

Once Maestre returned, he slowly got his rhythm and confidence back, and finally turned the corner in his breakout performance in Game 2 of the Partner’s Cup finals.

And it could not have come at a better time as UV heads to the 2018 Cesafi season without most of their interior operators from last year such as Mythical Five members Jerome Napao and Monic Soliva, and reliable forward Jayson Balabag, and their foreign player, Lassina Coulibally in sick bay because of an injured knee, which Cortes said might take six weeks to heal.

“I wanted the boys to win this even without a so-called ‘import.’ I wanted them to prove to their opponents that even if we went all local, we’re still capable of winning,” Cortes added.

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