By Kyle Reiner Pineda

The University of Visayas impressed once again in front of Metro Manila in the recently concluded Philippine Collegiate Champions’ League. The Green Lancers defeated the UP Fighting Maroons in a 93-63 drubbing in the Battle for Third. After getting blown out of the water versus the mighty ADMU Blue Eagles in the semifinals, they dispatched the Fighting Maroons with their energy and speed on both sides of the ball.

Statement Win?

Jancork Cabahug led the Green Lancers in scoring with 21 points, sniping in four threes. Mythical Five candidate Lassina Coulibaly commanded the paint with a 17-point and 15-rebound double-double, which included six blocks. Led by head coach Gary Cortes, the Visayan team kept it close with the Fighting Maroons in the first quarter until a 12-5 run blew the game wide open. The Fighting Maroons kept at striking distance with James Spencer, David Murrell, and Joe Gomez De Liano leading the team but timely buckets by the Green Lancers gave the southern squad the edge.

UV showed that they have the individual talent and energy which encapsulates play from the provinces. Rather than going for set plays, they mostly relied on their stars to deliver whether through isolation or in the post. This worked for them the whole game as UP’s defense was nowhere in sight and could not stop Coulibaly down low. The difference in energy level for both teams was evident as the Green Lancers led the game in rebounds, blocks, and steals. As UP opened up the third quarter with a full-court press, the Green Lancers were not fazed—pushing the ball up the floor knowing they were the quicker team and used this advantage to perfection.

Great System with Potential

It was evident that this University of Visayas should be on the scouting radars for all collegiate teams. They are a formidable opponent as they have won the CESAFI Basketball Championship 13 times and have been in the Final Four for the PCCL in three of the last five years. They have also produced great talent from the Visayan region such as Greg Slaughter, Joaquin Rojas, Arnie Tuadles, Elmer Cabahug, and the recently drafted Rey Suerte. The UV Green Lancers have shown that it is a great homegrown basketball program for Visayans to hone their talents. Shades of stardom can be seen from their current crop that with more technical coaching, they could take their game to another level.

One of their leading scorers in the tournament Jancork Cabahug has shown glimpses of his talent, often pulling up for a sweet jumper or surprising defenders with his quick first step. His build is very deceiving as he can get to the rack with just a couple of hesitations yet can stumble on his own feet when spinning at times. He is far from a finished product, but his footwork mechanics can improve at a higher level making his ceiling higher than it is now. He has a workable jumper, handles, and motor already. He can take that extra leap to improve all facets of his game to be a key contributor to a PBA team.

Looking forward

The University of Visayas Green Lancers is not the most accomplished team in PCCL from the Visayan region for a reason. They have a track record of accomplishments and players that have helped shape Philippine basketball. They might not have the fame of other top schools nor play in a league watched by the whole country but when they play, they play hard.

A common critique of Philippine basketball is that we rely heavily on isolation play and individual talent to win and though this is evident with this team, as their energy level and effort are something unmatched. Yes, UP was undermanned this game without Ricci Rivero. Yes, UP used this tournament to experiment with lineups. That should not, however, discredit the efforts of this UV team. They are a testament to how competitive basketball has become all over the country. If we are to continue to develop our basketball program on par with international standards, playing the game the right way and developing talent all over the country is a good start like what this team does.