CEBU CITY – Katipunan is a long way away from Sanciangko, but the long journey represents the trail point guard Kiefer Lim has taken to be in the position he and the rest of the University of San Carlos Warriors are in right now – a win away a first Cesafi men’s basketball title.
A former Ateneo Blue Eaglet, Lim played a key role in Game Four of the Finals by scoring 12 points spiked by three three-pointers and three assists in the Warriors’ 56-48 win that tied the best-of-five series at 2-2.
The effort not only gave the Warriors a new lease on life, but also put them in a position to erase the bitter memory of the team’s heartbreaking 82-71 loss to University of the Visayas in the deciding Game Five of the 2007 Cesafi title series.
The 5-foot-8 guard admitted the Warriors were a bit edgy during their 60-49 loss in Game Three, but with the prodding of head coach Junthy Valenzuela, they were able to turn the tide the following game.
“We were really stiff in Game Three. We forced a lot of shots and weren’t able to make a lot of them,” said Lim of their 2-of-22 shooting clip from beyond the three-point arc.
“But in Game Four, we were more loose. We had that mentality where we had nothing to lose,” added Lim, who also spent time playing for Team B of Ateneo’s seniors team.
On a team full of rookie guards, Lim stands out owing to his stint with national youth coach Jamike Jarin, who was also his mentor while playing with the Blue Eaglets.
Lim credited Jarin for honing his game.
“Being in Ateneo’s Team B didn’t really help me. It was really playing for Coach Jamike (Jarin) that I got to build my character,” he said.
When told of Lim’s development here in Cebu, Jarin beamed with pride and said he was happy to hear of his player’s success down South.
“He was really a diamond in the rough. He’s a very smart player who had a very clear understanding of the half-court game. But we really had to coax him to be more vocal and develop his leadership skills. Lalo na siya, as a point guard, he has to be the coach on the floor,” Jarin told Spin.ph on Saturday morning.
“But I’m very happy to hear of his success and I wish him the best of luck in Game Five.”
As Game Five beckons, Lim is expected to be the anchor of USC’s backcourt.
But instead of being wary of the pressure that comes in every do-or-die game, Lim said he and the rest of the Warriors will focus more on the one thing that has gotten them this far - defense.
“We really don’t talk about our offense. It’s all defense, defense, defense. When our defense is holding up, we get more possessions and our offense takes care of itself,” said Lim of their defense that held the Cobras backcourt trio of Mac Tallo, Jasper Parker, and Jovanie Luz to a combined 14 points in Game Four.