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Posted on Monday the 19th of February 2018

By: Dr. Derek Vallesteros

The Philippine School Doha Varsity soured what would have been a historic first championship campaign, after six years, against the Batangenyo Team TAKUZA Warriors via 70-85 , sweep of the men's basketball finals. This not only erased opponent's sweep of the regular season, it also continued PSD Varsity's dominance of men's basketball going back the previous months of the competition, a number of straight finals appearances resulting in few championship titles after 6 years of drought. There are a few factors for this sustained excellence, factors which have not been replicated by other teams. The first factor was the recruitment of a tall foreign player who took defense and rebounding to another level. The PSD varsity team (PSVT) stood victorious during the championship match held on Friday, February 9 at the PSD Gymnasium.
As both team's players enter the court, the air becomes tense and the excitement level increases. Spectators cheer in anticipation and support the players. Some parents of the players were also present during the game to show their support and to give morale boosts to the players. The first title of this unprecedented run came with the emergence of Rashad Kanakan the shot-blocking menace called "The Slasher" for his ability to neutralize other teams' offenses. He anchored the team's defense and helped start the offense. The PSD Varsity almost swept the season, save for that singe loss to eventual finals rival Ulirang Ama.
A fourth-quarter meltdown almost allowed TAKUZA to overtake them for the only blot on their record. But their success led to another change in the culture: a huge jump in the student involvement. That first and at the time, preciously rare finals appearance brought the fans in droves, and the PSD crowds regularly dwarfed everyone else's.
In that championship, PSD Varsity had the formidable trio of the incredibly athletic Kyle Japso, a leaner but already hard-nosed Rifai Kanakan and the devastatingly quick Rashad Kanakan. The final game was breathtaking, to say the least. PSDVT, with an awesome array of talent inside and outside, built leads of up to few lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then their offense vanished, dwindling to a single digit for the final period. The opponent caught up. You could feel the tension in a packed PSD Gymnasium. It was draining. It all came down to the final play. Getting a pass at the free throw line with few minutes to go, Rifai Kanakan had the go-ahead basket and the championship in his hands. Under the rim, he had sealed TAKUZA's valued player. He just needed to get the ball. But Rifai decided to take a jump shot and caromed into Rashad's waiting hands. Game over; PSDVT wins the season after 6 years without one.
But before all this success, PSD had been hemorrhaging players. For years, alumni of the amazing squads coached and trained by Mr. Mike Comia, with the assistance of Mr. Richard Caballero and Mr. Soc Gardon, had been contributing to senior's championships for other schools like Philippine International School Qatar, Birla Public School and Pak Shma. Intervention of new patrons stopped the bleeding, and PSDVT kept most of its champion junior's players. Their early maturation was a clear advantage in the school, as their depth of experience provided stability in crucial times. "I always remind my players that teamwork is a must, focus, camaraderie……and execution is the key to victory, if a team has those, they could win against any great team', Comia cited.
The school principal, Dr. Alexander S. Acosta, congratulated the team and reminded them that they represented the whole PSD body in the field of basketball. The support of Board of Trustees headed by Dr. Gerardo P. Macasa boost the morale of the team. This is, perhaps, the most important factor in PSDVT's continuous success: championship experience, playing at that high level, one gains a certain calm when others panic, a certainty that matters are in the team's hands. Proving the team's worth, they took home the special awards such as Mythical Five which includes Japson and Kanakan, the MVP award of Rashad Kanakan and the Best Coach award of Mr. Mike Comia. No matter how dire things seem, PSDVT have the confidence to turn things around. They've done it before. And the more experienced players on PSD's team have done even more. The best part is that it feeds itself. Wins beget wins. Best practices build on each other. But what ties everything together is a shared passion of improvement and winning. From the very top on down, everyone involved in PSD Varsity Team's success agrees on how things should be done. There is no compromise. And that is why anything less than winning is unacceptable. PSD is simply the B.E.S.T.