CEBU CITY — A preaseason full of success and promise took a shock turn for the winningest team in Cesafi history as University of the Visayas lost two of their best players to the University of the Philippines’ Fighting Maroons.
UV athletic director Chris Mejarito bared high-scoring guard Jun Manzo and last year’s Mythical Five member Leonard Santillan have left to join the Manila-based UAAP team - a development comfirmed by Manzo himself in a talk with SPIN.ph before the Maroons’ practice on Wednesday afternoon.
“As a player, we’re always looking to get better and I just feel being here at UP offered me that opportunity,” said Manzo, who made a name for himself in last year’s Cesafi finals where he had several scoring outbursts against the University of San Carlos Warriors.
“I’ve been practicing with the team for three weeks already and it’s been great. I feel right at home with coach Bo (Perasol) especially since Bisaya din siya. Plus the offense that they run here fits my style of play. It’s fast-paced and uptempo with a lot of driving and kicking and I’m used to that,” shared the wonderkid from Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.
Ironically, the biggest recruitment chip that the Maroons had was former UV standout Paul Desiderio, now one of UP’s main guys.
“Paul (Desiderio) helped get us here. Aside from UP having a great educational and athletic program, having him around to help guide us here was a huge factor in my decision to transfer,” added Manzo, who will be serving a one-year residency before suiting up for UP in the UAAP.
However, as welcome as the two have been at the Diliman camp, their departure has left a bitter taste in UV’s mouth especially with the Green Lancers in the thick of preparations for the upcoming Cesafi season after falling short of the title last year.
With Manzo gone and former starter Alfred Codilla having exhausted his eligibility, the Lancers are now left with a gaping hole at point guard with untested rookie Sheldon Gahi left to man the position.
Santillan’s departure also left the Lancers with one less scoring option.
SPIN.ph was able to contact UV team manager Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas but the young solon declined to comment.
He did say that he was not made aware of the development as he was busy on the campaign trail.