From ragtag team to champions | Inquirer News

From ragtag team to champions

By: - Correspondent / @ForgetAbouJay
/ 06:55 AM November 23, 2011

After 21 long years as the head coach of the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers, Jun Pepito has practically seen them all.

From the likes of such former greats as Neil Raneses, Reed Juntilla and Aldrin Ocanada, all of whom have brought much glory to the basketball powerhouse school.

However, Pepito was in for the surprise of his life in the recently concluded Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. juniors division basketball tournament as his rag-tag collection of talent, led by the prodigious 14-year old MVP Paul Desiderio, captured the championship.


It was a feat that neither Pepito nor the rest of the UV community expected, which was cause for great celebration, an event that was finally held last week  at the Marco Polo Hotel.


The celebration was led by the Gullas clan, the family that owns the school, headed by president Congressman Eddie Gullas, Gerald Anthony “Didi” Gullas, team manager Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas and Joselito Gullas.

“Wala jud lagi ko magdahum na ma-champion ni nga team. Kugihan lang jud kaayo ning mga bataa and didto nila napakita sa Game 5,” said Pepito.

Ranged against the favored Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles, another team aspiring for the crown after falling short last year, the Baby Lancers fell behind by 10, 55-65, at the end of the third canto.

Just when things appeared bleak, UV made a comeback and eventually won the game and the crown, 85-80.

At the forefront of that thrilling comeback was Desiderio, the youngster from Liloan, who became the youngest Baby Lancer to win the MVP trophy and the youngest the Cesafi has had since Mark Jayven Tallo did the feat two years ago.

Showing maturity far flung from his age, Desiderio remarked that they just stuck with one another when they stared at the deficit heading to crunchtime.


“Salig lang jud ko sa akoang mga kauban. Tinabangay lang jud mi kay mao ‘to na nalubong mi kay wala man mi nagkasinabot,” said Desiderio, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the final canto of Game 5.

Desiderio decided to enroll at UV in spite of offers from different schools, including the same squad that they beat in the finals—the Magis Eagles.

He credits his mother Christine for the decision to join UV as the latter was a former varsity volleyball player there.

One of his inspirations, though, is his father Abner, who works at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

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Desiderio will once again be back for UV in the Cesafi next year, where they hope to repeat in spite of the exodus of players from this title team.

TAGS: Baby Lancers, Basketball, Jun Pepito

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