“Sobrang nakakapanghina ng loob, sobrang lost kami. Sobrang nakakapanghinayang, kasi kahit gusto naming i-defend ‘yung championship, sobrang bumaba kami.”
That is how current College of Saint Benilde Blazers captain Francis Basilan described the atmosphere in the dugout after last season’s loss to the Arellano Chiefs.
Disheartened, the Blazers had no choice but to continue the fight despite bidding farewells to captain Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, among others.
“Siyempre, hindi naman siya nakukuha sa ng madalian,” the middle blocker shared about how they started the rebuilding process.
“This is a team sport – maraming iba’t ibang ugali, personalities. So sa buong taon na magkakasama kami, nagre-regroup kami. Ang dami naming pinagdaanan. Ngayon ko masasabi na it takes time para mabuo yung star team talaga.
“We’re not aiming for star players, aim namin is a star team talaga,” the graduating senior added.
It was not easy, but the uprising began with a simple look back. “Binalikan lang namin kung saan kami nagsimula. Yung system namin pinilit lang namin maging intact. Although maraming bago, marami pa rin yung willing na mag-stick dun sa system kung anong meron kami, kaya ito kami ngayon.
“Ito na yung nabuo sa sistema na yun.”
Looking back has let the Blazers move forward. And now, they finally have a chance to reclaim the title after blasting the EAC Generals last Tuesday.
As one of just three players left in the starting lineup from that championship squad two seasons ago, Basilan compared the current squad from that batch.
“Yung difference is sobrang laki nung ni-regroup. So, another four players na naman. Pero yung similarity is yung sistema is andoon pa rin,” shared the skipper, who tallied nine points in the three-set semis victory.
“Na-e-earn [yung system] through time. So pinipilit namin. We always look on that championship kung paano namin siya kinuha, yung step by step. Pinipilit namin na i-apply siya ngayon kasi yun yung sistema eh.”
What has stood out for the Blazers – at least in recent years – is their emphasis on mental toughness. And for Basilan, it will be no different for the Blazers this time against the defending champions University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas.
“Stick pa rin kami sa kung ano yung nagwo-work throughout the years. Ito pa rin yung nagme-meditate kami kasi kailangan maging mindful,” he said.
“Sa laban na ‘to, pag-akyat ng championship, patibayan na lang ‘to ng utak eh. Yung skills, yung team, andyan na yan. Magkakatalo na lang sa kung paano ka mag-iisip.”
Mind over matter is what brought the Blazers their maiden title, and they will need just that in order to claim their second NCAA championship.
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