What's happening, Letran?
By Pio Garcia, Unblogged Sports Updated Wednesday July 23, 2014 - 3:07pm

Letran is teetering on the brink of this season being a lost cause until they find something, or someone, to turn this ship around. A record of 1-4 is not something a finalist should tote even if they lost a big piece down the middle. Everyone should pick up the slack. But what has gone terribly wrong with the Knights?

Before I get to that, I'll make it clear that this is, in no means, an attack on the staff to the players or to the school. You never know when those "diehards" have their pitchfork moments or whenever this lands in their "Taga-Letran Manila ka kung..." Facebook page. I just can't stand ugly and dysfunctional basketball.

Yes. What I'm witnessing from Letran is dysfunctional basketball.

Take it like this: the moment they stepped on the court, the only players who seem to have their heads screwed straight is Jamil Gabawan, Rey Nambatac and Ford Ruaya. The kids are giving it their all out there yet this doesn't spread to the other players. They're either busy showboating, appeasing the fans, or just plain lost out there. No one seems to be held accountable for this.

See, after Raymund Almazan left and Jojo Belorio having used up his playing years, the Knights still have a team that can compete at least for a Final Four seat. Now? Jesus help me, but that Final Four is being locked down by Arellano, San Sebastian, Perpetual Help, and San Beda. You can blame two big losses, sure, but this is college basketball. You are bound to have those losses year in and year out. And Letran did a fine job with their new recruits. They are a year away from serious competition but they can contribute right away.

I cannot fault Caloy Garcia as a coach. Dude has been putting up work, and no we're not related in case you are wondering. But this goes out of the coach. True he has to be on his feet to win games. But what if he's totally prepared to win games but his players aren't? That fine line of berating the coach as he loses and praising the player if they win is oh so terrible. Can't we go the other way around? Surely, the players are partly to blame for losses as much as victories can be hoisted on the coach's shoulders.

Garcia still employs his defense. Thing is, everyone on the floor seems lost when to cut a driving lane close or when to close out hard. The safety valve underneath has been pretty much stuffed with baskets. Gabawan has been doing a fine job trying to make it work defensively and offensively to make up for the numbers posted by Almazan and Belorio. Ruaya too. Publico? Public-o humiliation more like it. Whatever happened in the offseason?

And then you have the stars. Or should I downgrade that to "stars?" Mark Cruz has been up and down this season. By my memory, his best game thus far is the one against San Sebastian. Mapua? Please. A benchwarmer can have a career game against the Cardinals. And then the brouhaha with the referee in the JRU game happened. Yes, we have a right to complain, however, as a player, when you complain incessantly, you're thrown off your game! Being the star, the engine of the team, Cruz ought to know more about that. Let Caloy do the yapping.

What about Kevin Racal? Dude has been putting up insane numbers. But what's my knack? Well, the old Racal that did everything without question and just kept his head down despite successes is gone. Racal has been fist-pumping, laughing and whooping for every point and rebound it seems. We're not denying him his celebrations. But whispers from the vine say that somehow, success has gotten to the head of this wingman. I refuse to believe that even if my eyes say that's just trying to look cute for the TV.

Somehow, the Knights have to realize that they don't have a safety blanket in Raymond Almazan anymore. That Jojo Belorio won't be there up their grill, barking, demanding that they play with ferocity. Racal and Cruz have to realize that they should be the ones doing that now. Look at Gabawan, Nambatac and Ruaya, playing hard, diving hard, that at least should say something to the "stars."

Otherwise, the battle cry of those lost "diehards" of stopping San Beda...

... May God help you all.

Send your letters of complaint, protest, and blind hate to @piovgarcia

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014 @ San Juan Arena
12:00 PM - Game 1 - Jrs/Srs
4:00 PM - Game 2 - Srs/Jrs