Freeman Cebu Sports

UV ready for new season, hopes to end 2-year jinx

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The University of the Visayas Green Lancers are primed and ready for the 16th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. season set to kick off August 6 at the Cebu Coliseum with a campaign slogan centered on ending a two-year title drought in Cebu's premiere inter-school basketball league.

Lancers head coach Gary Cortes said the cohesiveness and teamwork of his fighting force had been significantly polished after they joined various pocket tournaments where they performed remarkably well.

After winning the CESAFI Partner's Cup last May, the Lancers finished as runner-up to defending UAAP champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws in Bayugan City Inter-Collegiate Invitational in Agusan del Sur, then settled for third placed in another commercial tournament in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay where they had their first round of team building activities.

"With the series of tournaments we've joined for the past few months, the players have slowly improved their maturity and teamwork. Having said that, I can say that we're ready for this CESAFI season," said Cortes, who is now on his second year at the coaching reins of Lancers.

In his rookie season, Cortes piloted the Lancers to the finals where they put up a gallant stand before losing an epic best-of-five series against the University of San Carlos Warriors, who went on to claim their first major basketball crown in 58 years.

In declaring their readiness for the brand new season, Cortes said like the other teams, they have one aspirations entrenched in their hearts and mind - to go all the way to the championship.

"The goal for all the teams is to win the championship, same with us," said Cortes. "But we have to play one game at a time."

Last summer, UV's lineup was a bit crippled after All-Star guard Jun Kent Manzo and forward Leonard Santillan shockingly bolted out of the Lancers' camp to pledge allegiance to the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the UAAP.

Curiously, Santillan is reportedly now with the De la Salle Green Archers, while Manzo, showing great remorse for his moments of indescretion, returned to UV's fold.

A prodigal son that he is, Manzo was accepted back by his Lancers family but he must sit out for one year first before he can wear again the green and white uniform as punishment.

Still, the Lancers boast of a plethora of talents boosted by the return of reliable guard Alfred Codilla, who turned down a job offer as a hotel staff just to be of service to the Lancers.

"I'm happy to be back and play for one last season for the Lancers. I was offered a regular job at a hotel where I had my internship but I politely turned it down upon learning that I can still play for the Lancers," said Codilla, who was only in his rookie year when the Lancers last won the CESAFI plum in 2013 under coach Felix "Donbel" Belano, Jr.

"As the most senior member of the team, I no longer aspire for individual honors. What matters most for me is that I can be of big help to the team in our championship quest," added the flashy wingman.

Codilla's presence will surely add depth to the already formidable backcourt of the Lancers powered by Rey Suerte, Josue Segumpan and emerging star Sheldon Gahi, who have lately flashed talent and skills capable of filling up the void left by Manzo.

Six-foot-five Bassieru Sackor maybe small in size as an import but he shows a lot of hard work and willingness to improve his craft - the main reason of his admittance to the elite UV Basketball under the wings of team manager Gerald Anthony "Samsam" Gullas, Jr.

UV also has the vastly-improved Michael Macion to compliment the likes of Jerome Napao, Jason Balabag, Michael Maestre and John Monic Soliva at the frontcourt.

On top of that, the Lancers have two prized catch, a sharpshooter from Dumaguete City in Tristan Albina and a 6-foot-4 behemoth from Capiz in Leonard Degoma, thanks to their eagle-eyed scout and assistant coach Van Halen Parmis.

"We've been working hard for a common goal of winning the CESAFI title this season," said Parmis, who is also a well-known figure in the commercial circuit both as coach and organizer. "We are just keeping our fingers crossed and our hopes high." (FREEMAN)

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