CEBU, Philippines - The University of the Visayas Green Lancers are not resting on their laurels after snapping their two-year title jinx in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI) last year.
And with the way things are going on, it seems that the Lancers are planning to reign as champs for a longer period of time.
That is the direction they are headed to after the towering Hassan brothers Jossier and Janner from Zamboanga have committed themselves to the elite UV Basketball program.
"As of now, my brother and I are committed to play for UV. We are just waiting for our enrollment to be processed and be accepted by the school," said Jossier, who had been joining UV's practice sessions together with his brother Janner since Monday.
Both 6-foot-5, the Hassan siblings will certainly add depth and bring new dimension to the already formidable UV fighting squad.
Also, they would easily become the hottest attractions in CESAFI since the post–Greg Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo era.
That's a bad news for their rivals as they are playing for the same time and UV at that, with a long and storied history in Cebu hoopdom.
The Hassan siblings started honing their hoop skills while playing for Ateneo de Zamboanga during their elementary years. They went separate ways in high school, with Jossier suiting up for the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eaglets and Janner donning the jersey of the Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws in the UAAP where they both won a championship.
Jossier, 17, formed part of the Blue Eaglets that snared the juniors title in the UAAP Season 77 in 2015. Three years before that, Janner, 21, had his taste of crowning glory with the Baby Tams.
"Me and my brother consider this as our biggest achievements, so far," said Jossier, who grabbed the MVP trophy in the Milo BEST tournament during his last year in the elementary.
Jossier got interested in basketball because the sport runs in their blood and that considers his parents Al-Sadat and Jonit as their greatest influencer. "My parents had a huge impact on us. They are always guiding us and giving us advice that led us to become, not only a better player but also, a better person," he said.
Jossier considers his being tall and young as his best assets. "Being young can expose me to more opportunities and it can help me gain more experience as a player."
The Hassans revealed that it was UV talent scout Van Halen Parmis who recruited them to play for the Lancers.
For Parmis, luring high-profile cagers from a prestigious school (not to mention that they come from a prominent family) into UV's den was a tall order. He then gladly narrated how things unfold from the very first moment he spotted the athletic gift of Jossier Hassan during last year's Batang Pinoy National Championships in Tagum City, Danao del Norte.
"It was a normal scouting day for an agent like me. I was on the bleachers, like the usual, on the look for potential players to suit up our team during the Batang Pinoy 3x3 in Tagum last year," recalled Parmis. "I could still remember how a towering baller from Ateneo caught my attention. I am referring to Jossier Hassan, the youngest of the Hassan brothers. That started it all."
Given the enormity of the task at hand, Parmis said he was about to give up at first.
But he persevered.
"I must admit, it was not an easy deal. The boys coming from a highly respected family in Mindanao with the likes of Ateneo and USC as competitors, I almost gave up," said Parmis. "But being in this business for sometime now, I took the challenge to fuel my determination to win the boys. I made the first step by pursuing the father directly."
"The invitation to visit Cebu was fulfilled three weeks later. It was on this occasion that I wasted no time and made them witness the practice to showcase what we got. Fast forward to last week, at the most unexpected time of the year, a Black Saturday at that I got the biggest news. Their transfer to UV is indeed a blessing to the team. And definitely an answered prayer for me, I must say."
Standing tall with lots of potentials, it is no secret that many schools in Manila are interested to recruit them for college ball. But in a surprise turn of events, the Hassan brothers opted to play for the UV Lancers instead.
"Before heading to UV, I played for the Ateneo de Zamboanga in college for one year and my brother Janner stopped playing for almost two years. I went back to Zamboanga because my parents decided that I should pursue my dream to become a doctor," said Jossier. "But, I thought that playing for UV would give me greater opportunities to continue my passion in basketball. That's why our parents decided that we should go and play for UV if we still want to pursue our career in basketball.
Jossier believes that playing for UV will broaden their horizon and give them more opportunities to improve on their craft. "We accepted the offer of the school because we know we will have more opportunities to experience here. We can assure that we will give our best effort and dedication to help the team win."
Having two towers fortifying their arsenal is a huge delight for the Lancers. For their rivals, an ominous warning. (FREEMAN)