JUNTHY Valenzuela would rather forget the first game of University of San Carlos in Manila after the team bowed to Jose Rizal University in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.
“(Ang) sama eh,” said Valenzuela when asked about the team’s performance in a 61-78 loss to the Heavy Bombers on Wednesday. “Hindi namin alam kung pagod ‘yung mga players o nabigla lang.”
The Warriors are competing in the preseason tournament against their UAAP and NCAA counterparts in preparation for the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) where Valenzuela is entering his first full season as head coach.
And as he prepares the Warriors for the coming Cebu league, the 35-year-old Valenzuela wants the team to adopt the same personality he had while playing for Red Bull and Ginebra in the PBA before a knee injury cut short his fruitful pro career.
“Unang-una, gusto ko i-apply sa kanila, dahil ‘yun ang rason kung bakit ako nakalaro sa PBA. Katulad kanina, na-star struck sila, nabigla kaya naunahan kami. Nawala sila sa focus sa depensa,” said Valenzuela, who took over the team after the retirement of longtime head coach Julian Macoy.
“Gusto ko rin na nakikipagpatayan ‘yung mga players para sa amin. We are looking for that kind of players,” he added.
Unfortunately, Valenzuela said he didn’t see the defensive effort he wanted from the Warriors.
“Hindi ko nakita ngayon ‘yun. Masyadong na-dominate kami ng opponent. Hopefully, next game, maging natural na ‘yung laro namin,” said Valenzuela.
Despite the loss to the Heavy Bombers, Valenzuela said playing in Manila is one big opportunity for the Warriors, being one of three teams representing Cesafi in the Filoil preseason tilt.
“Malaking bagay sa amin ito na nakapaglaro kami sa Manila. Ito ‘yung mga teams na gusto naming makalaban para magkaroon kami ng exposure. Pagdating sa liga namin, exposed na ‘yung mga bata at sanay na sa mga ganung laro,” he said.
The Warriors, according to the Cebuano player, have a conservative target of just playing competitively in their six elimination-round games in Group A, where they are set to face next the likes of reigning UAAP champion De La Salle and defending Filoil titlist University of the East.
“Ang aim lang talaga namin is every game, makapagbigay kami ng magandang laban. Every game dapat competitive kami. ‘Yun ang aim namin,” said Valenzuela.