CEBU CITY – For the fifth season in a row, the title in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) will be decided through a sudden-death Game Five.
And with the 10-time Cebu champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers and last year’s runners-up, the University of San Carlos Warriors getting set to lay it all on the line on Tuesday evening, Spin.ph asked some players who have went to battle in Game Five and came out on top on what it takes to pull through in such pressure-packed environment.
Remembering his lone Game Five stint in the Cesafi like it was yesterday, current Barangay Ginebra big man and former UV stalwart Greg Slaughterand said that the team that plays together the most will likely emerge as the winner a game with such high stakes.
“The team that has its individuals surrender themselves to the team. It's got to be a together effort,” said Slaughter, whose Green Lancer squad powered through the Warriors, 82-71, in Game Five.
“It was my rookie year and I played just around 20 minutes. Sylvester Tancongco, Ariel Mepana (former Alaska Ace) and Michael Luga definitely led us in that game.”
Another current PBA player who has been through the trenches of Game Five, current San Miguel guard Brian Heruela, said that it will take grit and desperation to win a Game Five.
“It takes mental toughness. You can throw away all the stats sheets already because in a do-or-die game, the team that wants it more or who’s more desperate will get that crown,” shared Heruela, member of the University of Cebu Webmasters team that won the 2011 Cesafi crown with a 60-54 victory in Game Five over the Southwestern University Cobras.
“It was just a great feeling that we accomplished our goal and won the championship. I remembered that it was a really intense game with a lot of pressure. But we just kept our composure as a team,” added the burly yet lightning-quick guard.
The man largely responsible for that UC victory, Edward Pao, concurred with his former teammate’s assessment.
“Honestly there is no secret recipe in a winner-take-all game. It will always boil down to who wants it more,” quipped the Filipino-American forward who sank two triples late in that 2011 match to boost the June Mar Fajardo-led Webmasters to their second straight title.
Cobras guard, Macmac Tallo, the league’s reigning two-time MVP, also shared his two cents on the matter.
“It takes commitment to your goal and and determination,” said Tallo of his experience in Game Five last year against these very same Warriors who he helped vanquish by scoring 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 64-49 win