CEBU CITY – Two-time defending champion University of the Visayas are determined to finish strong after a slow start to the season.
Coach Gary Cortes said he took a long, hard look at the team after starting the tournament with two straight losses. They believe injuries to key players, including starting guard Sheldon Gahi and foreign student-athlete Lassina Coulibally, got them off on the wrong foot.
“We had to troubleshoot what the root cause to the bad start was. We found out that it started with injuries and then, some players didn’t really adjust well to their roles as backups to those injured players. The worst part was some players were still looking for those players who were unavailable,” shared Cortes.
He added that they immersed the players in community outreach programs and then, a beach outing where they all prepared the food they ate.
“We started filling the gap and then winning came at the right time,” said Cortes of the Green Lancers late run that saw them sweep the second round of eliminations, including a blowout of University of Cebu, which they will tangle with in the semifinals on Saturday.
UV needs only to win once to advance to the best-of-three finals.
“We’re really preparing for UC, doing more on mental conditioning. We know very well that UC will never give up easily and they have been in that very same position before, beating USJ-R twice last year. That’s why we need to play hard for us to be in the Cesafi finals once again,” Cortes said.