“We always find a way”: San Beda leans on resiliency for championship bid
Ceej Tantengco on Oct 05, 2016 01:44 PM
San Beda’s road to the finals would not be so easy as their fans had predicted.
Before the finals series between the San Beda Red Lions and Arellano University Chiefs begin tomorrow, let’s rewind to the start of NCAA Season 92. Sure, the Jio Jalalon-led Chiefs were tagged as “the team to beat.” But for many NCAA fans, expecting San Beda in the finals seemed like a no-brainer.
They had made the finals for ten years in a row. They were stacked with shooters. And they were coming in hungrier than ever after having their five-peat snapped by rivals Letran Knights.
But San Beda’s road to the finals would not be so easy as their fans had predicted.
Instead of dominance, we saw them cycling between setbacks and comebacks. Coach Jamike Jarin used this to motivate his players. “We lost six of our best men. Art, Ola, Baser—it’s not easy to replace guys like that, but you stepped up. Dan [Sara, the team captain] was injured. We lost Donald [Tankoua, to a season-ending ACL injury]. But here we are,” he told the team towards the end of the regular season. “The beauty of our team is we always find a way.”
Another strength of San Beda: unpredictability. Compared to other teams where a supporting cast rallies around a go-to guy, the Mendiola-based squad says anyone on the team can step up. A wide variety of Red Lions have been awarded the player of the game plum, from veteran player Javee Mocon, to AC Soberano, who leads the league in three-point percentages at nearly 40%; to explosive gunners Robert Bolick and Davon Potts, to rookie big man Ben Adamos.
“I told them we’ve been together for a year. The reason why everybody will jump because I’ll be the first one to jump. And the reason why they’re gonna jump, I’ll be waiting for them down stairs to catch them. And if I wont be able to catch them, I have taught them to fly already. That’s who we are. We trust each and everyone" - J.J
The Red Lions enter the Finals on the back of yet another setback-comeback cycle, having been forced into a rubber match after the Perpetual Altas upset them to nullify their twice-to-beat advantage. “Our team was built to be selfless, but we didn’t play that way,” Jarin said of that loss. They learned their lesson and took vengeance—sharing the scoring load to secure their ticket to the finals for the 11th year in a row.
In terms of training, Jarin takes a quality-over-quantity mindset. (A bit of context here: The Altas increased their practice hours from three to five before their win against San Beda, which became six hours the day before the Red Lions eliminated them.) “Just the usual [number of hours] for us,” notes Jarin. “What’s more important is we execute on the court.”
As they face the Arellano Chiefs tomorrow, they’ll draw upon their mettle tested by this season’s challenges and the rewards reaped by selflessness. “Kung hindi gumawa ‘yung isa, siguradong may gagawa na iba,” Jarin says.
The San Beda Red Lions face the Arellano Chiefs in the finals of #NCAASeason92. Game 1 begins at 3:45 PM on October 6 (Thursday), live on ABS-CBN S+A. Livestream here.