With UV’s 9th prize, Eddiegul is on Cloud 9

“Humbling.” That’s the first word uttered by Eduardo Gullas, the University of the Visayas president and Congressman of Cebu’s first district, when we spoke yesterday. “Humbling because the Lord was very kind to us this series,” he said. “Many thought this would be the end of our championships. But I told the boys after, ‘You are the champions… but maintain the spirit of humility.’”

(The Freeman Photo/Paul Jun E. Rosaroso)

That word, “humility,” is a synonym for the name, “Eddiegul.” To the tens of thousands who’ve met him face-to-face, that’s one word best to describe Eddie Gullas: humble. This was most evident last Thursday night when, right before the start of the fourth quarter between the UV vs. UC final, the congressman arrived. He sat beside Cesafi Commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy. But that only lasted for three minutes. Because never mind if he had the best ringside seat inside the Cebu Coliseum, he opted to climb the bleachers and sit among the crowd. He’s simple, modest—a man for others, with others.

In our wide-ranging phone conversation yesterday afternoon which lasted over 20 minutes, I asked the Cebu Sports Hall of Fame awardee a variety of questions after UV won it’s 9th title…

“We’re now looking forward to the PCCL (Phil. Collegiate Champions League) on Nov. 23,” he said. “Meanwhile, I told the team to relax and have fun. Visit your loved ones.”

What would it mean, I asked, if UV won the national title? To recall, I mentioned to Eddiegul, “in 1957, UV won the inter-collegiate crown and you were adjudged by the Phil. Sportswriters Association (PSA) as the ‘Coach of the Year.’ What if UV wins this year? “That will be a big challenge,” he said. “The Manila teams are strong, especially Ateneo. And the NCAA champs, San Beda. Plus, the UAAP and NCAA numbers two, three and four are strong. But it’s not impossible. Still, it’s a big challenge for out-of-town teams. Also, the advantage with the Manila teams is their exposure to the PBA games.”

On his coaches Boy Cabahug and Al Solis? He said: “They are valuable. Boy and Al complement each other. If you recall, in his playing days, Cabahug was an offensive player. And Solis was point guard. And so Didi (Eddiegul’s son) made a good choice with their tandem. Boy focuses on the offense; Al on defense. Their skills complement each other. I saw this for myself several times when we had no sessions in Congress and I’d watch them practice in the UV gym.”

We also talked about Greg Slaughter, the 7-footer who wears jersey No. 7 and was named Cesafi co-MVP (with Jun Fajardo) this season. “According to Didi, he has not signed any contract yet with the SBP. Greg’s parents were here last month and they listed down four important points before Greg signs an agreement. Greg has been told to report to Manila and be with the Gilas squad. But I believe he has expressed his opinion asking if he can play for UV during the PCCL event.

(Sun.Star Cebu photo)

“As to Greg playing for UV next year? Well, there’s still a possibility although, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s around 4 or 5. Personally, I’d like Greg to play one more season. Not only because our ‘Perfect 10’ dream would be enhanced, but also so that he can finish his Business Administration degree. Basketball is a contact sport and, if anything happens, it’s a big advantage. Also, if ever Greg goes back to the U.S., it won’t be difficult for him to land a job if he finished a college course.”

Finally, I queried: Why is UV unbeatable? What success secrets do you have?

“First, our coaches instill in the players a desire to be No. 1. A desire not to settle for No. 2. Second, our alumni is a big factor. They help out. In the different provinces, when they see good material, they contact us and even accompany the players to UV. This is unique. Third, I believe the all-out support of the UV administration helps. Right now, the younger boys have taken over the program. Jiji and Didi have given their full support. And now, it’s Sam-Sam. He’s very dedicated. And I believe, with the players, it has instilled in them a desire to give it their best. Fourth, prayer. I believe in prayers.”

(MORE: Read this article I wrote last May 2009 about the Gullas brothers Eddie and Dodong.)

Can UC ambush UV to force a wild Game 5?

(From Sun.Star Cebu)

Ever since the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi) started in 2001, one name has emerged victorious in men’s collegiate basketball. For the past eight seasons, the University of the Visayas has been undefeated. They’re 8-0.

Will this number become nine out of nine tonight, when the UV Green Lancers, armed with a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five Finals series, meet the University of Cebu Webmasters in Game 4 tonight?

“This is our biggest game of the entire season,” said top lawyer Baldomero “Merong” Estenzo, who is UC’s Dean of the Law School and the basketball team manager, when we spoke yesterday morning. “If we win, we will have an excellent chance in Game 5 on Sunday. The momentum will be with us. Our players will have added morale.”

Of course, the big, two-lettered word is… “IF.” Because if UC loses, then it’s the end to another disappointing season—and another splendid year for the unbeatable Green Lancers.

“The key to UV’s wins has been their experience,” added Estenzo. “In Game 1, we led the entire game and only lost it in the last three minutes. Same with Game 2. We led but then UV came back. Good that we won that game in the end.”

That’s true. In Game 1, UC led 42-36 entering the fourth quarter. With 7:49 left in the ballgame, they had a 10-point margin, 48-38. But in the end, the last-minute jitters attacked their squad as UV escaped with a 64-56 victory.

In Game 2, UC again led, this time by as much as 16 points before UV sneaked back to lead 70-68 with just 32 seconds left to play. That’s when the heroics of Rommel Luceño arrived when he buried a three-pointer to give UC the win via overtime, 71-70. In last Tuesday’s Game 3, it was all-UV as the Lancers won, 81-67.

“Our players were very tired in Game 3,” said Estenzo. “Game 2 was played on Monday and, on Tuesday, we played Game 3. Unlike UV where they have a lot of second stringers, with us, we rely on a few key players for the entire ballgame. And so, playing back-to-back days, UC was tired. Also, that was a disadvantage to us because many of our players are rookies and not as experienced.”

As to UC’s star center, the 6-foot-9 Jun Mar Fajardo, how has he fared in the finals? “He knows he’s carrying the team. But, sometimes, he becomes too ‘gigil.’ Maybe because too much pressure is on him. At times, “ma-pugos niya and iyang duwa.” When’s he double- or triple-teamed, ma-pugos niya. He has to realize that, when he’s double-teamed, that leaves one teammate vacant. And with UC, there are plenty of good shooters.”
How has the Fajardo vs. Greg Slaughter one-on-one played so far? “Slaughter, no doubt, is a very valuable player for UV. He has the height. He has the heft. And he can stop Fajardo. But in Game 1, it was Fajardo who outplayed Slaughter. But in the next two games, it was Slaughter who dominated.

“What I told Bernard Ricablanca (UC’s athletic director) was for Fajardo to take advantage of his speed. He’s fast. For a person with his height, he’s fast. But I’ve noticed that he has the habit, in practice, of simply jogging. They should engage him with more sprints. Fajardo is extraordinary for a guy at 6-9. He’s not slow-footed. He has to take advantage of his speed. Like, for example, after he rebounds and passes the ball, he should sprint back. No one, especially Slaughter, will be able to catch him.”

When I asked Estenzo why UV, this entire decade, has been unbeatable, his reply was precise. “They have an excellent program. A program that’s geared towards winning championships. They have a deep bench. They have a lot of players. Lots of reserves. They can even form a second squad that can compete against everybody. And so, these second- and third-string players, after a year or two with UV, they’re already seasoned. It’s a continuous winning program.”

Finally, I asked Atty. Estenzo what it takes for UC to break the UV streak. “Our players need to trust each other. No one player can carry the whole team. Not even Fajardo. He needs the support of all players. We have to be a team.”

Categorized as Cesafi

UC vs. UV: Can Fajardo slaughter the champs?

When I spoke to the two-time reigning CESAFI MVP yesterday, Greg Slaughter corrected me. “Are you ready for the match-up of the two tallest men in Cebu?” I asked. “You mean the two tallest players in the whole Philippines!” answered Greg.

Oh, yes. Greg Slaughter is Herculean. He stands 7-feet-tall. Jun Fajardo (above photo) is gargantuan. He’s 6-foot-9. In the history of Cebu basketball—and possibly of the entire Philippine collegiate basketball—this is the most sky-scraping and towering of contests.

Categorized as Cesafi

A Cebu Eastern College supporter responds

Last Thursday, a squad of 14- to 16-year-old high school students lost a basketball game… by 131 points! I wrote about CEC’s inconceivable 159-28 loss to UC and asked if any school official or exponent would explain why, after only a few days’ of preparation, their boys were permitted to join the toughest inter-school league in Vis-Min.

Well, at 2:16 p.m. last Sunday, my mobile phone rang. It was Penelope Villabert. “Call me Penny,” she said. A former parent of CEC (and one who worked, for a time, at the well-known Chinese school), Penny and I spoke for nine minutes. Later that night, she sent me this email:

“Sir, Greetings! You are one of the columnists I respect and admire. I know you will understand the concerns I will convey as regards your opinion  in your column, “With 131-pt wreckage, CEC’s name is bruised.” It is a fact that CEC has been in deep slumber especially in athletics for years. It is waking up slowly but surely under the leadership of the new administration for almost two years now. Most of the school’s concerns have been addressed to and this time they are focusing on sports.

With 131-pt. wreckage, CEC’s name is bruised

It was too unbelievable to be true. Far-fetched? Yes. Implausible? Yes. Beyond belief? Yes. It’s the story that was trumpeted two mornings ago by our top dailies with headlines that read: “131-PT ROUT” (Cebu Daily News), “UC Jrs. thrash CEC by 131 pts.” (The Freeman) and, from Sun.Star, “Horrible mismatch.”

Wrote Gabby Malagar of The Freeman: “The University of Cebu (UC) Junior Webmasters made league history with their 131-point massacre of the Cebu Eastern College (CEC) Dragons, 159-28, in an unbelievable outcome of the 9th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI)…

“Scoring by quarters saw the Junior Webmasters leading by a mile – 65-5, 78-11, 115-19 and 159-28 – thereby raising questions of coach Rex Salvana’s logic of pushing CEC to join the tournament in which some quarters perceived as throwing a sheep into a pack of hungry lions.

June Mar Fajardo


(Photo from Sun.Star Cebu/Arni Aclao)

Basketball I watched the other night. At the Old Cebu Coliseum, the Enervon/UC Webmasters dribbled against the Maria Sanctuary Park/USJ-R Jaguars in Game 3 of the CESAFI-sanctioned Partners Cup.

Ramon Fernandez, a four-time MVP at the PBA, sat to my left together with his wife, Karla Kintanar, while Chao Sy, the owner of Hotel Fortuna and the man financing the SWU squad in this event, sat to my right.

Our four pairs of eyes enlarged. Fronting us stood a being so large; a gargantuan figure who towered like the Taipei 101. Standing 6’9”, ask him to point his arms to the ceiling and he’ll nearly touch the 10-foot-tall ring. With just one little hop and an orange ball on hand, he’d slam-dunk.

Freddie says De La Hoya’s too old, overstaying

It’s not aired on local or cable TV but it’s a must-watch. I’m referring to HBO’s documentary called “24/7,” which features Oscar de la Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. I first heard about this bio-short film from Chris Aldeguer. The youngest son of ALA, Chris is now in the U.S. preparing for two mega-events: he’ll watch the Dec. 6 blockbuster at the MGM Grand and, just hours later, at 6 a.m. the following day (Dec. 7), he’ll run the Las Vegas Marathon—the first-ever 42-K by Chris after training for over 12 months.

Back to HBO’s 24/7 film, what a story! It contrasts DLH’s training at the immaculate confines of his brand-new gym at Big Bear, California with MP sweating amidst the noise and commotion of the Wild Card Gym.

Categorized as Cesafi, NBA

Yayoy vs. Tiukinhoy: What do you think?

Two afternoons ago, Cebu City Councilor Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba called. He was furious. “Boy (Felix) Tiukinhoy is only good if he’s the one organizing the tournament,” he said. “If he’s not part of it, to him the event is no good.”

The latest issue, as you’ve read on these back pages the past few days, is the Visayas Amateur Athletic Association (VAAA).

The founder of the VAAA, Yayoy Alcoseba hoped to include, among his roster of teams, Cebu’s top collegiate schools: UV, USJ-R, UC, USC, among others. Instead, in a 6-1 vote by the school owners of the Cebu Schools Athletic Federation (Cesafi) last week, they barred any Cesafi school from participating in the VAAA.

Yayoy Alcoseba and Boy Tiukinhoy ready to fight (He-he! That’s Freddie Roach)