CEBU CITY - The frustration that has been building up long before the season started came to a boil on Saturday evening as Southwestern University guard John Lloyd Luz and head coach Yayoy Alcoseba figured in an intense verbal spat on the sidelines in the middle of their heated game against the University of the Visayas.
During a timeout, Luz was scolded by Alcoseba for taking an ill-advised shot. But with the competitive juices flowing and the tension making for a combustible mix, the former Far Eastern University guard snapped and yelled, “Di na ako titira!” which nearly caused an altercation between player and coach in the huddle before cooler heads prevailed.
Such is part and parcel for a highly-frustrated Cobras side that, aside from having a huge target on their backs being the defending champions, has had to deal with plenty of adversity long before the season’s very first tip off.
“It is always very difficult for any defending champion to hold on to its crown as it is always the target of every other team. This season, other than the usual trials and adversities, SWU has been terribly handicapped with a depleted lineup,” said Alcoseba in a talk after their 60-75 loss to the UV Lancers.
Prior to the season, the Cobras’ roster was gutted with the disqualification of several key cogs which included starters Jasper Parker and Bernie Bregondo, sixth man Daryl Goloran and supposed reinforcement Mupungu Boko, leaving them with a nine-man crew that while not lacking for talent, is heavy on personality.
“It’s been very very difficult especially kulang kami. It feels like we are going to a war na we’re not ready for. We did not expect for things to be this way. We had no idea that those players will not be able to play,” said veteran forward Jan Auditor who opted to spend his final playing year with SWU in lieu of the University of Cebu to chase another title.
. We have tried our very best to adjust to what has happened but as you can see, it has not been easy. Kaya halos every game, mag-away-away na because we’re all just very frustrated," he added.
Even team skipper and two-time league MVP Mac Tallo has not been immune to the frustrations hounding the squad all the way to the semifinals where they are expected to miss power forward Juju Bautista due to an ankle injury, reducing the crew to a gang of eight.
“We’ve been good this season. We still made the semifinals. The difficult part is our egos. Everybody doesn’t listen to each other. Sa practice, everybody is passing pero bakit sa laro, one pass, shoot na agad?” queried Tallo.
In spite of the challenges, Alcoseba has urged his wards to keep their heads high and continue fighting.
“We were doomed from the beginning but we’re here, we’re still fighting. All I want from my team is heart. We will play with the cards we are dealt with and we’ll give our best in every game.”
As for Luz, a prolific guard when engaged and focused, Alcoseba had this to say: “(Jun) Luz could be a very good player if he is coachable.”