CEBU CITY — Some of the best collegiate players in Cebu seek to learn as much as they can from their hardcourt idols when University of San Jose-Recoletos and reigning Cesafi champion University of the Visayas play PBA teams NLEX and Meralco in the Recoletos Invitational Cup on Wednesday at the USJ-R gym.
UV battles the PBA Governors’ Cup runner-up Meralco at 5 p.m., while USJ-R takes on NLEX in the 7 p.m. game.
“I feel mixed emotions. I feel excited and nervous at the same time. Playing against these two great PBA teams is such a big opportunity and privilege not just for me but for my whole team because I know we can learn a lot from them,” said USJ-R wingman Miguel Gastador, who shared to Spin.ph that he has had sleepless nights with anticipation of the games.
USJ-R’s lead guard, Jaybie Mantilla, named to the Mythical Five in the last Cesafi tournament, is very excited to play the likes of NLEX’s Asi Taulava and fellow southern products Carlo Lastimosa and Garvo Lanete.
“I really can’t imagine myself playing with them because I never expected to be one day, standing in front of them. Those PBA players are my idols. Sa TV ko lang talaga yan sila napapanood tapos ngayon, makakalaro ko na,” said Mantilla.
Tricky Peromingan, meanwhile, is looking forward to going toe-to-toe with NLEX guard Kevin Alas.
“I'm really excited for tomorrow’s game kasi makakalaban ko po si Kevin Alas. Isa po sa mga iniidolo ko sa PBA. Nasubaybayan ko siya since Letran days pa niya. All basketball players dream of playing against PBA players but not all are given the chance.”
The Jaguars’ top forward RJ Dinolan, however, refused to be starstruck by the big names he will be lined up against.
“There is nothing to be afraid of. We all have pairs of hands and feet. We’ll try our best to keep up with them,” Dinolan said.
UV head coach Gary Cortes is glad Cesafi players will get a chance to gauge themselves against professional players.
“Playing against PBA teams is a great opportunity for all the players and the Lancers to gauge and see how near or far they are from their goals and to determine the things that they need to improve on in order to reach that level. It’s a morale-booster to be chosen to play in this tournament and the experience that we will get from this will be valuable,” said Cortes.