I WAS in Davao City last week as part of the delegation from the Mandaluyong City Peace & Order Council (MCPOC).
Purpose was to benchmark on best practices covering peace and order concerns and I can say it was productive as we learned new things that can be adapted in Mandaluyong , underground cabling and CCTV installation among others.
But most impressive was their disaster preparedness that went with the fleet of fire trucks, ambulances, and amphibian vehicles among others and the way they can cover practically the whole of Davao City, all its 182 barangays compared to Mandaluyong’s 27.
Patrick Megia, who headed the delegation as the DILG director in Mandaluyong, was all praises for the reception the delegation received. Of course we all had the time to enjoy Davao, its food on top of the list and its local fruits, durian, mangosteen, pomelo, and marang.
But of course this is not my subject matter for this piece.
You see while on the plane on way to Davao City, I noticed a group of young tall kids whom I suspected to be basketball players, they were.
It was the senior team of Letran on the way to Bukidnon to play an exhibition match as both teams were out of the semis in both the NCAA and the UAAP.
And of all places. Letran coach Rensy Bajar, an old friend of mine whom I saw last at the house of Letran supporter Alex Wang, was assigned a seat just in front of me.
Of course, I took the opportunity to chat with him him and painful as it is for him, we discussed what happened to defending champion after a disastrous start , losing games one after the other that they never recovered.
They lost seven straight games befire beating San Sebastian. Then went on another losing streak, defeated Arellano in the second round and that was it for a final 2-16 record.
For a team that was seeking a four-peat after winning back to back before the pandemic and repeating last year under Bonnie Tan, this year’s perfornance was really and totally unexpected.
Rensy, who took over this season under a two-year contract that might be in peril now, was dejected.
He has previously won 27 titles in other leagues with his Diliman College Blue Dragons and was looking forward to winning more with the Knights.
Looking back , Rensy cited the reasons, 10 players from last year’s team graduated and the remaining players were all non starters, sophomores basically.
And with that comes the lack of maturity, especially in pressure packed final minutes of games.
A grandson of the late coach Ato Tolentino also left the team after seeing minimal action.
Injuries also hounded the team before and during the tournament, according to Rensy.
Plus the fact that there was no serious recruitment done that there were no new and promising players on the team.
But he is determined to pick up the pieces and even as the NCAA season has yet to end, he has been bringing his team to outside games like the one in Bukidnon recently where they beat UST, 84-79.
This while he waits for the possible fall out even with a guaranteed contract as rumors have been flying about replacing him on the bench.
For me, Rensy has proven himself in the past both as a player and coach.
I remember the time he went to play in the Indonesian Basketball League (IBL) as an import, emerged MVP in 2005, and was offered Indonesian citizenship so he could play for the national team but he declined and eventually returned to tne Philippines.
I did a piece on him after and it helped pave the way for his return to the PBA, suiting up for Alaska.
As a coach, I remain confident about his mentoring capabilities and I hope he gets the chance to redeem himself with Letran next season.
But then that is not a call for me to make and like Rensy, I can only wait to see how Letran will decide on the matter.
Anyway, to another front, I am looking forward to watching the semifinals of the PVL with three teams already in., undefeated Creamline, sister team Chico Mucho, and Chery Tiggo with Cignal a shoo in with an expected win in its last game against Gerflor on Tuesday.
If that happens, Cignal will take the 3rd spot and will meet Choco Mucho, which defeated Chery Tiggo last Saturday night in Iloilo Creamline meets Chery Tiggo in the other semifinals match up.
My confident prediction, Creamline and the surging Choco Mucho team will be in the finals, the bigger question is will Choco Mucho go all the way and get its first title in the PVL?
My fearful prediction this time is no, Creamline will still prevail.
LOOSE CHANGE: Happy 35th wedding anniversary to People’s Tonight sports Editor Ed Andaya and his wife Liza on December 3.
For comments and suggestions, email to [email protected]