The date: June 24, 2012
The playbill: San Beda Red Lions versus the Arellano University Chiefs
The tale of the tape:
San Beda: 9 of the 15 players on San Beda’s roster were suspended, due to an off-season melee with the San Sebastian Men’s Volleyball Team. Without its top guns and mainstays, San Beda had to make do with what’s left of its arsenal- untested rookies and returnees.
Arellano: Perfect attendance, 15 out of 15, on Arellano’s bench, hoping to give new Coach Koy Banal, a warm welcome into the NCAA.
The verdict: Utoy Abarcar, Junjun Bonsubre, Arth dela Cruz, Yvan Ludovice, Dave Moralde and Richie Villaruz (now etched in school history as the Super Six) played the game of their lives to win, 81-71.
Fast forward into 2013…
Bedans were in for a shocker…
The Lyceum Pirates had never beaten San Beda since they joined the league in 2011. News reports this morning stated that during the off-season, the Pirates lived under one roof, cooking, eating and sleeping together. A couple of days ago, they agreed to turn off all their mobile phones, and broke loose from all social media to focus on their game. This was what it took to be in the zone, and beat the defending champions.
I remembered stories told of how the Super Six prepared for that game last year. The entire team egged them on in their daily practices. The coaches paid particular attention on building the stamina of the Super Six. A considerable period of time during the summer break was dedicated to prepare for that game.
Looking at the analogy, it was pretty much how the Lyceum Pirates prepared to beat the Red Lions this year. There really was no magic formula, hardwork, determination, focus.. This was how Davids beat Goliaths.
It could be history repeating itself. But this time, it was San Beda on the losing end.
Winning six of the last seven NCAA titles may have made our players complacent, battling the lower ranked teams. But this is why you have coaches around, to motivate the athletes in keeping the competitive flames in them burning. These boys are fighters, with every muscle and bone in their bodies built for intense competition. They just have to wake up from slumber, the season is back on.
It may be a lot of factors too. Fatigue from playing two consecutive playdates? Conspiracy theories? New coach, new system? Burning out? None of these factors are ever new. The Red Lions experience these, year in, year out.
People are quick to point fingers, whose fault is it? What could have gone wrong? Maybe not much. It’s just that, tides shift.. Bilog ang bola eh. Now, the whipping boys of the league refuse to lose, just as much as the defending champions do. The Pirates had the hunger, they got the grit. They wanted it more.
As the league unfolds, I want to wish my favorite six-some, a happy, happy anniversary. I was one of the privileged few who saw this historic game live. Thank you, Super Six, for making that day, one of my most unforgettable Red Army moments of all time. May the same hunger and the grit that won you that game, drive this year’s team back on the road to the four-peat.
Go San Beda Fight!