For the proud University of the Visayas Baby Lancers, second place is no reason for celebration. Which is why when the ball goes up for the new season of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) juniors tournament, all eyes will be on the revamped squad as they try to make yet another run at the throne they last sat on in 2011.
But the road will be tough and strewn with challenges especially for a Baby Lancers squad that will miss its crafty and high-scoring trio of Mythical Five members JC Escalona and Theo Flores along with bench sparkplug Orlan Wamar.
“Wala pa jud. Daghan pa kaayo kailangan trabaho-on. Siguro naa pa mi sa mga 60-70 percent. Nag-tune-up game mi sa USPF kahapon (Wednesday) and though nakadaug mi, nakita jud nako na daghan pa mi kailangan i-improve,” said Bongcaras in a morning conversation with Cebu Daily News.
With the aforementioned gone, much is being expected out of returning forward Jancork Cabahug. That much was clear as day to Bongcaras who was appointed the team’s new mentor after serving as Delfin Pepito’s top lieutenant for 11 years. Pepito has since been elevated to head the school’s basketball program.
“Naa man koy upat from last year’s team na mo-balik,” shared Bongcaras referring to Cabahug, Ramish Alforque, Marvin Oche and Adryan Padilla. “Pero sa among pagka-kuwang ug big men, murag si (Jancork) Cabahug jud dapat ang manghawd na ani na team labi na sa ilawm.”
The production of the backcourt of Escalona and Wamar will be hard to replicate but Bongcaras was optimistic with his incoming court general, Royce Alforque, who he has already annointed as his top point guard.
The UV Baby Lancers actually came close to dethroning the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles but fell short in the deciding Game 3 of the finals series, 66-73.
Asked if he believed that his team has what it takes to make the trip back to the finals, Bongcaras erred on the side of caution as he and the rest of the team first set their eyes on making it to the semis.
“Siguro, 50-50 pa mi anang finals. Pero dili mi magkuwang sa paningkamot. We’ll see kung unsay mahitabo pag magsugod na jud ang season.”
The Baby Lancers last won the Cesafi juniors title in 2011. Starring for that squad was former RP Youth team standout and now University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon Paul Desiderio.