NCAA 95: When does work begin for San Beda? 'Mas maaga pa sa tilaok ng manok'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 23, 2019 05:34 PM
When does work begin for Beda? 'Maaga pa sa tilaok ng manok'
Coach Boyet Fernandez is not the first person through the door when San Beda practices (Photo by Josh Albelda)

San Beda University remains the pacesetter everybody else is pursuing now near the end of the first round of the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.

Through eight games, the Red Lions have registered a winning margin of 20.5 points - including wins over other title contenders in San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and Lyceum of the Philippines University.

Even more, only one team, the archrival Knights, have come as close as single digits.

Through that unbeaten run to start the season, "Bandana Bros." James Canlas and Evan Nelle, Cameroonian powerhouse Donald Tankoua, and breakout player Calvin Oftana have all had their moments for the defending champions.

As it turns out, though, they have been dominating games all because they have been dominating training sessions leading up to them.

So much so that Boyet Fernandez, their multi-titled mentor known for his hard work, is never the first person through the door of their gym when they practice.

"I arrive in the gym at around 6:00 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. and Calvin is shooting already," coach Boyet said. "Even Evan and James are there. Mas nauuna pa talaga players sa akin so this is all a product of their hard work."

Yes, San Beda's key cogs are already hard at work even though the sun is only about to come up.

Of course, they are only continuing the tradition set by the Robert Bolick-Javee Mocon pairing that had given Mendiola its latest three-peat.

"Sobrang modelo namin sila, especially Javee, yung work ethic niya, nandun palagi," Oftana shared. "Mas maaga pa siya sa tilaok ng manok e kaya yun yung isa sa mga motivation namin. Si Robert naman, so hard on us noon because he always wants to remind us to keep improving."

Following the footsteps of their leaders now gone, the Red Lions seem set to continue their winning tradition. "Ngayong wala na sila, we're here na to step in their shoes," the fourth-year forward said.

Indeed, for Coach Boyet, the work ethic Bolick and Mocon established and reinforced is their greatest legacy. As he put it, "My players probably see the result of what Javee has been doing and what Robert is doing. That is their example."

He then continued, "Siguro, kahit hindi ko na sila ipu-push, they already know what's the mantra of this team - hard work. It showed today."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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