YOUNG CHAMPS. The Letran under-14 basketball team bags the crown at the Breakdown Basketball Innovation Tournament. File photo from ITMS.
Everyone who plays under Letran basketball developmental coach RJ Guevarra thinks they’re the best player at any tournament. It doesn’t matter if they’re facing the MVP of the opposing team, or if the counterpart averages more points than them. If you’re playing in coach RJ’s team, you would eventually think you’re the best among the rest.
Before winning the crown at the Breakdown Basketball Invitational (BBI) Tournament last October 1, the young team faced La Salle Antipolo – the same team which trounced them in their semifinal duel last summer in the same league.
Fast forward to their recent stint, coach RJ and his boys did not really focus on avenging their loss against La Salle. All they did was play and learn, and eventually the wins arrived.
The 14-U team finished a 6-1 record in the eliminations, suffering only one loss against none other than La Salle, who entered the tournament with a stronger line-up than their champion roster last summer.
“To be honest, during the championship, ‘di rin ako umaasa na mananalo kami sa kanila,” said coach RJ.
Being one of the long-time coaches Letran has ever had, coach RJ brought out his intellect in the game by reading the team’s strengths and weaknesses. He led the young aspirants to a title which they considered the fruit of everything they went through in the entirety of the tournament.
Talking about lessons, coach RJ admits having quickly seen the changes the kids have shown during the championship. They had much more confidence and determination. Just like what every coach wishes to see from his players, every young Knight stepped up that day.
“Nag-step up ‘yung iba, we had a running game. ‘Yung mga ibang (players) na hindi nila ine-expect ‘yun ang gumawa,” he said.
With a combination of strong words and a sleek attitude, coach RJ had definitely brought out the best from all his boys. The team had finally beat La Salle for the championship.
“Unang-una walang gumaling sa basketball na hindi makapal ang mukha, kailangan makapal ang mukha mo pagdating mo sa court,” he expressed. “I always tell them, tayo lang ang magaling. Every time na matatalo tayo, tsamba lang ‘yon,” he said with grace.
This coming November, the Letran basketball developmental team will play in the NCAA Kiddies 15-U tournament. They will also see action in the Varona Cup which is organized by the Colegio. To further strengthen and improve the young players’ basketball game, they will also join the Got Skills tournament which will be held at the Lyceum of the Philippines University.
And from there, the same mindset will continue for coach RJ and his boys; that they, despite setbacks and barriers, are the best among the rest.
(First published on The LANCE's October Issue)