There are always two sides to a coin. For southern hoops powerhouse University of the Visayas (UV), this could not be any truer.
On one side, they’re known as a basketball power unlike any other in the region, amassing the most championships in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) apart from producing a who’s-who of basketball alumni, many of whom have gone on to successful careers as pros.
Then there’s the other side, one that in recent years has been magnified by one impetuous event after another.
Who could forget the unsportsmanlike foul spree the UV Baby Lancers went on in the Cesafi juniors finals last season? Or the walkout instigated by UV Lancers head coach Gary Cortes in an exhibition game in Medellin in April of this year? And of course, there’s the infamous near-fisticuffs between teammates Franz Arong and Jeffakins Aguara in the middle of an actual semifinal game last year.
These and more have cast a dark cloud on the school’s basketball program. “Hooligans! Sore losers!” said critics of UV’s players.
However, this season, the winds have seemingly changed. And though UV’s calling card remains to be their toughness, there have been less whining and complaining to officials, nor have there been any incidents of roughhousing that have marred past campaigns. In fact, UV players now go as far as helping opponents up when they fall down.
All these have not gone unnoticed in Cebu’s close-knit basketball community, prompting many to ask if this is the dawn of a new era for UV basketball.
Team owner and manager Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas certainly believes so.
“The foundation of UV’s basketball is teamwork and leadership. To exemplify these core values, UV must display this on the hard court and, apparently, we have succeeded in showing to our fans what basketball really is. I credit the team, the coaches, and the fans. It cannot be denied that UV has undergone quite a number of rows, but it did not stop us from leaping up and striking a new change in the way we play basketball,” said the youthful sportsman and politician.
Since being reinstated as head coach after a brief suspension following the aforementioned walkout, Cortes has taken it upon himself to preside over the turnaround of the college team.
“From the very start, we always teach these kids to be tough. But sometimes, they get too tough and get rough in the process. So we take it upon ourselves to remind them of what it means to play for UV. From proudly wearing our school colors during game days to respecting not just ourselves but every other player and official out there,” Cortes told CDN yesterday.
Baby Lancers head coach Abel Bongcaras also shared his two cents on the matter. “Kaning basketball, dili ni tibuok lifetime. So ever since na ako naglingkod aning position, ako jud gi-emphasize na importante sad i-build ang character sa mga bata. Because diri sa UV, dili lang basketball skills ang among i-develop, pati sad jud ang character.”
“We realize na importante kaayo ang amoang trabaho kay whatever among ma-develop diri sa high school, madala man nila sa college gud. So we have to make sure that we’re teaching them the right skills, the right attitude,” added Bongcaras.
With this new and improved Green Lancers squad carrying the school colors well, Gullas expressed optimism for the path that the team is treading on.
“As the team manager, I am delighted to hear from the fans the change in how we do our work in court. It only shows our dedication to this field of endeavor. My team does not only do hard work in basketball but these players has excelled in school as well. Our players and the coaches grew and developed right before our eyes and this is a positive indication that UV is back on its right track.”