CEBU CITY – Former Letran guard Franz Dysam is grateful for friend and fellow Cebuano Jomari Sollano for completing for him his unfinished business with the Knights.
Dysam harbored dreams of winning a championship with the Intramuros-based team in his final playing year in college only to see the vision cut short by a tragic shooting incident on the night of July 20, 2013.
The Cebuano player sustained six gunshot wounds in the ambush that claimed the life of his former partner. Motorcycle-riding gunmen perpetrated the crime as the couple was on their way home from a game at The Arena in San Juan.
Dysam never suited for Letran again and instead, went back home to Cebu where he now works for a business process outsourcing (BPO) company.
However, he left his alma mater with a prize possession in the form of Sollano, who he recruited after the 6-foot-4 center found himself without a team following the disbandment of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation Panthers in the Cesafi.
Sollano proved to be a solid acquisition after playing steady for the Knights during their title-clinching Game Three overtime win over the San Beda Red Lions to clinch a first NCAA men’s championship in a decade.
“I’m very proud of him (Sollano). At least, even if I wasn't able to win championships for Letran during my short stint, I feel like he was the one playing for me and I was able to repay Letran with Jomar's (Sollano) talent,” said the reclusive guard in his first interview with the media since the harrowing incident two years ago.
A lightning-quick guard from USPF, Dysam played for the Perpetual Help Altas under former head coach Bai Cristobal in 2007 and 2008. But after Cristobal was replaced the following year, Dysam moved over to Letran and donned the Knights’ colors in 2010 and 2011 before sitting out the following year.
He then returned for his final year of eligibility in 2013 when the fatal shooting incident happened two games into the season.
But Dysam already knew the Knights had something special back then when he quarterbacked for the likes of now pros Raymund Almazan and Jam Cortes, together with Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, McJour Luib, and Rey Nambatac.
“I believe there was nothing lacking during my time to win championships. There were a lot of chances actually to win a title for Letran. We fought a good fight, but I think it wasn't God's perfect timing yet,” said the 5-foot-9 cager.
Like the rest of the Letran community, Dysam takes pride in the fact that this batch overcame heavy odds with an all-Filipino crew.
“It is of great pride as well that we (Knights) believe in what each and every one of us can do, and not depend on the talents of imports. And I think it is more rewarding to win championships with an all-Filipino talent.”
As for Sollano, he believes the sky is the limit for his former protégé.
“I am very proud of him. Right from the start I knew he can make it there. He made the right decision in choosing to fight for his dreams. I'm glad he listened to my advice. In all the success he has achieved today, that's just the beginning. Alam ko mas malayo pa mararating niya,” Dysam said.