CEBU CITY — Life goes on for the University of the Visayas Green Lancers in the wake of the sudden defection of their two best players — Jun Manzo and Leonard Santillan — to the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
With precious little time left before the start of the Cesafi season, UV head coach Gary Cortes has all but accepted the departure of his star pair and has encouraged his wards to do the same.
“That’s part of the challenge of being a coach. That’s their decision and we can’t do anything about that except move on. Those who chose to stay here, that’s who we’ll go with,” said Cortes, a former defensive stalwart for the Green Lancers during his heyday.
Assistant coach Van Halen Parmis agreed, saying there's nothing else to do but accept the bittersweet departure of their former stars.
“It is more of mixed emotions. Happy that they are now a step closer to their dream, at the same time sad thinking that we have lost another gem, somebody we have nurtured and bonded for a bit of time," said Parmis.
"It is like losing a member of a family. But what else can we do? You talk about exposure and better deals? Manila teams has it all, maybe even more,” he added.
While Santillan’s scoring prowess will undoubtedly be missed, it is Manzo’s departure that cuts deep as his guile, explosiveness and toughness helped usher in a new generation of Lancer dominance - leaving big shoes to fill for untested rookie Sheldon Gahi and wing-turned-point man Rey Suerte.
“Sheldon (Gahi) has really taken on the responsibility in practice and in out-of-town games and he has adjusted to the role. Rey (Suerte) has also been converted into a point guard. Sometimes, he also starts depending on the match-up,” said team captain Josue Segumpan.
Segumpan is also constantly doing his part to help his teammates embrace the new opportunities that have opened up.
“There are a lot of players who will be given opportunities to show their talent and abilities with the amount of playing time that have opened up. We all need to step up. Our team is doing well although we’re still making a lot of adjustments,” the Bacolod-bred sniper said.
Cortes also reminded his players to always remember the school first, especially when offers from other schools come.
“I just told the remaining players to always think of UV first, especially when there are offers from other schools. They always have to remember the hospitality and the goodness that the school has extended to them," he said.
"They won’t be discovered if they weren’t developed by the school. They have an obligation to the school so they have to do right by UV,” added Cortes.