THE man once tasked to rebuild a moribund basketball program now finds himself going up against the very same 'monster' he created.
Southwestern University (SWU) assistant coach Mike Reyes takes on his former team University of San Carlos (USC) in the best-of-five finals for the Cebu Schools and Athletics Federation Inc. (Cesafi) title starting on October 13.
The brother of Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes once stood at the forefront of the Warriors’ basketball program, which he turned from doormats to instant title contender during his time in charge.
With Reyes on board, USC made it to back-to-back Cesafi Finals in 2006 and 2007, but both times were frustrated by the University of the Visayas Green Lancers.
“Yung 2007 na team, we were really clicking both on offense and defense. Hindi lang talaga namin na-anticipate `yung third unit nila. Yun `yung pumatay sa amin talaga,” Reyes recalled of the Lancers’ unheralded heroes in Sylvester Tancongco and Harlow Villanil.
The Warriors have since become a consistent title threat, but never make it back to the championship series until this year.
Reyes was not surprised.
“They should make it to this round. They now have the proper support for recruitment and equipment for the players,” said Reyes, who admitted during his time with the team, they had to pool money together just to be able to buy water for the players during practice.
Eventually, Reyes ended his stint with the Warriors and joined the Cobras in 2012. Right in his first year with SWU, the team won its first and only Cesafi title.
The Cobras failed to retain their crown last year after losing a commanding 2-0 lead to the Lancers in the best-of-five finals. Now, SWU is aiming for redemption and will definitely have plenty of time to prepare against USC with the three-week break before the finals.
Reyes bared the Cobras are focusing on the fundamentals first before devising their actual game plan.
“This week, back to basics muna kami. Next week na `yung practice sa game plan,” shared Reyes.
He also added the three-week break actually works for the team considering it only had the benefit of a complete lineup just once all season long.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries so we welcome the break talaga. Baka not so much kanila (USC) kasi maganda ang nilalaro nila eh.”