By: Glendale G. Rosal July 19,2018 - 09:48 PM

CHAMPS AT LAST! Members of the Talisay City Aquastars show off their medals and championship trophy after winning over San Francisco in Game 2 of the Finals at the San Francisco Municipal gym in Camotes Island.
Glendale Rosal

Not only Talisay emerged triumphant in the 2018 season of the Governor’s Cup Basketball

The Talisay City Aquastars may have been crowned champions, but there were also other winners in the 2018 season of the Cebu Governor’s Cup Inter Cities/Municipalities Basketball Tournament.

The biggest winners this season were the Cebuano basketball community, both fans and players alike.

The tournament, which used a home-and-away format and started last April 5, gave fans all around the province a chance to witness exciting basketball action right in their respective gymnasiums. The Cebu Provincial Sports Commission (CPSC) project also gave players from different towns the needed exposure to help them with their respective careers.

“Now, [we know] that we have talents from the far-flung municipalities of Cebu,” said CPSC Executive Director Atty. Ramil P. Abing.

CPSC is also a winner for a job well done organizing the four-month tournament, even with the minor glitch early on with one of the games pitting Naga and Minglanilla.

The CPSC handled very well that officiating glitch and went on to come up with a better season capped off with an exciting championship game last Wednesday at the San Francisco Municipal Gym in Camotes Island, Cebu.

“I am very happy of the outcome of the 2018 season. This shows that with the right tournament and program, we can [help promote sports] in the entire province. We are very happy that this season is very successful,” Abing added. “Definitely, we will have another season of the Governor’s Cup.”

Even losing finalist San Francisco should be given credit for their performance this year. Its Cinderella story this season can be used to inspire teams from other towns of Cebu to play basketball.

Breaks of the game

Not many really expected the first timers in the Governor’s Cup to reach even just the quarterfinals, but they proved doubters wrong and eventually dethroned the Consolacion Sarok Weavers for the North Division title.

“San Francisco, for me, is a revelation because they were able to reach the finals,” Abing said of the team coached by former player Christian Liaz.

Liaz said despite the loss, the team exceeded his expectations.

“It was all the breaks of the game [that spelled out downfall in Game 2],” said Liaz. “Hard work was always our key in every game we play and the boys were able to adjust but the title wasn’t just meant for us.”

San Francisco started strong in Game 2 and, even if it eventually lost the lead later on, kept the game close all throughout but just ran out of time in the end, losing to Talisay by two points, 64-66. But what the team showed is a clear indication of what to expect from them next season.

“It’s our first time to join the Governor’s Cup so for the next season, we will [continue to] fight every game. We will give our all every game.”

Record-setting year

But the season really belonged to Talisay City, which never tasted a deafeat in all of its 14 games from the elimination round to the championship round.

The Aquastars were only runners up in the South Division last year, losing to eventual champion Minglanilla.

But this year was theirs, and it showed with the 14-game unbeaten run that is a record in the Governor’s Cup tournament.

“Our secret is we stay focused in each game that we play. That’s why we were able to execute our plays and sets successfully because we were all focused on a common goal,” said Talisay coach Rey Gurrea.

Gurrea also revealed that the team banked on divine intervention, saying his wards always made sure they prayed every time they entered and left the court.

“Our number one weapon is prayers. We always pray. We always stick to our faith everytime we are facing challenges.”

He admitted, though, that it still wasn’t easy going up against San Francisco in the Finals, even if the Aquastars were touted as favorites.

“Honestly speaking my ultimate goal is to get this team a championship title but I did not expect it to be this hard. I wasn’t that certain because of our opponents’ heart and their never-say-die attitude. It’s very tough to play against a team that never gets discouraged,” said Gurrea.

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