Leap of faith pays off-A A +A
Saturday, October 5, 2013
THE University of the Visayas Green Lancers head coach Felix “Donbel” Belano Jr. revealed his side of the story following an awe-spiring Cinderella finish for his first Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) collegiate basketball title.
Belano believed the motivation and inspirational speeches from UV president Eduardo Gullas and his son Gerald Anthony “Didi” when the team’s spirits were already very low, that woke up the players. They were down 2-0 in the best-of-five finals series but recovered to win the title, Belano’s first as coach.
“We followed what Sir Eddie told us when we had our practice going into Game 3 - hard work, defense and prayers. Sir Didi supplied us with the strategies of what we were supposed to do. And I have always reminded the players that it we need just one win for us to conquer our inferiority to the Cobras,” Belano told Sun.Star Cebu.
But before he made history for the league, Belano was hesitant to accept coaching for UV.
“I was not (yet) ready to coach. Honestly, I turned down the offers. I was hesitant to accept it because I still wanted to play (in the PBA) and out of courtesy to coach Boy (Cabahug, the then coach of UV), who was doing well for the Lancers. I was promised by my bosses with Talk ‘N Text that I would be playing soon after I was injured. In fact I was given a new contract (in 2010), and my salary was near the maximum. But when Sir Eddie personally called me, I had to accept the offer because I respected him and I owed UV a lot,” added Belano.
Before UV’s offer came, Belano was offered a front office job as team liaison when he did not make the line-up with Manny Pangilinan’s expansion team, the Meralco Bolts.
“I was told to be patient and was offered a job as a liaison for Talk ‘N Text while waiting for my time. That was when Sir Eddie asked me personally to become the coach of the Lancers,” Belano continued.
As a rookie coach, Belano won his first title two months after taking over the job when UV won the Cesafi Partner’s Cup title in
2011. He won three straight titles.
But his campaign in the regular season was tumultuous —UV failed to make the finals after they lost to SWU, twice in the semifinal round that was capped by an ugly incident that saw four Lancers being thrown out of the game.
The next season, Belano was primed to win the 2012 title—winning all its eight regular and semifinal games before losing the first game of the series to SWU.
UV came back and was one win away from clinching the title, but the Cobras stole it away from him as his veteran players conked out in the final two games.
“What I asked from UV was to let me travel back and forth to my family in Manila regularly. Then I also asked them to give me three years, because by that time I could have my own team and this is the team I have right now,” explained Belano.
But the 2013 Season started ugly for Belano and the Lancers, who lost to SWU in their elimination round game then lost two more games in the semifinal round plus the first two games in the finals, before winning the last three games of the series.
“We lived up to our mantra —conditioning, chemistry and character, which we have been building even before the Cesafi Partner’s Cup started. We learned our lessons hard in Russia. We were beaten black and blue, but we tend to forget almost all throughout the season. So, I have to remind them again and luckily it worked,” stressed Belano.
Though they regained the title for UV, the job is not yet done.
“Cesafi title is just our short goal. Our long-term goal is the PCCL title. This is just the beginning, we have a harder work ahead,” Belano added.
Belano is giving his players a one-week break before they go back to training for the PCCL campaign.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 06, 2013.