VSU Pythons Basketball Team's roller coaster journey shocks different universities with their team chemistry and never-give-up mentality after a hard fought campaign in the Mayor's Cup. After defeating EVSU in a lop-sided match and taking their vengeance against SLSU in an unexpected comeback win, VSU secured their ticket to the championship game despite facing a lot of challenges and not having enough preparation.
The gymnasium was fueled with competitiveness and eagerness to secure the Mayor's Cup Inter-Collegiate Basketball Tournament held at Bontoc Southern Leyte on January 9. The final battle between Visayas State University and Saint Joseph College of Maasin ended in a one-sided 74-90 loss, with SJC emerging as champion.
VSU Pythons Men’s Basketball team's head coach Patrick John Piamonte, reflected on the surprising success, sharing insights into their journey to the finals. "Honestly, we didn't expect to reach the finals because, after the SCUAA, I decided to stop them from practicing to let my players rest," the coach stated. The team's chemistry and laser-focused mentality, coupled with their aim to clinch the championship, propelled them to the finals.
Key moments and standout performances defined their path, particularly during a comeback win against Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) Hawks, where they overcame a nearly 30-point deficit. Facing almost a 30-point deficit, the Pythons rallied and defeated their opponents, with bench player Belt Managbanag emerging as the unsung hero of the day. The coach expressed pride in the unexpected contributions, emphasizing the importance of teamwork.
Pythons’ notable epic performances from each of the players and their versatility during their stint were monumental for their momentum. In the first game, Marvin Rebuyas was named player of the game after logging 27 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals that propelled their 102-81 victory against Western Leyte College (WLC). Team Captain Al James Calizar delivered a double-double performance in their second game with an outstanding 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists—almost flirting with a triple-double to help the team snatch a narrow 93-92 victory against EVSU.
They would lose, however, to the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) Kingfishers, 84-83, due to a buzzer beater but they would eventually get their revenge as Rolando Abad played out of his mind on double-double performance with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists on a 9-point 93-84 victory. This punched their ticket to reach the finals against Saint Joseph College of Maasin in the finals.
Throughout critical matches, the team's mindset remained unwavering, with the coach emphasizing their perpetual aim to win championships. "Before we reach the championship, we should work hard and focus on our training," the coach mentioned. The players, including key team members, played an active role in motivating each other, fostering a spirit of resilience and perseverance.
As they look ahead, the VSU Pythons recognize the invaluable lessons gained from the Mayor's Cup experience. The coach highlighted the importance of team chemistry, overcoming paperwork challenges, and the necessity of participating in competitive tournaments to prepare for future competitions, including the upcoming SCUAA. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Pythons' performance in the Mayor's Cup serves as a testament to their potential and resilience on the court.