This is the second installment of our MVP (Meet our Varsity Players) series, where we feature the captains and leaders of our college’s dear varsity teams. In our opening article, we broke the stereotype that varsity teams are only sports teams and gave a sneak peek into the double life of a medical-student-slash-choir-singer. This time, we focus on the more mainstream knowledge of varsity teams as sports teams, and turn our attention to our very own Men’s Basketball Team.
Featured today is none other than the captain of the Men’s Basketball Team, Sterling Tiu of Class 2020. His answers reveal his dedication to the team, the kind needed to balance life as an athlete and a medical student. His answers also show how proud he is of the team, who are set to face the freshie team this coming Thursday (31 January 2019) on the opening day of this year’s Bakbakan. He even shares his thoughts on #LABron, among other things.
UP MEDICS: How would you describe your team’s performance in the latest Palarong Medisina and Bakbakan?
Sterling: In Palarong Medisina, we advanced to the quarterfinals/knockout round but lost to the defending champions and eventual 2nd place finishers UST. We put up a hell of a fight but they just had too deep of a roster, which included full second- and third-string lineups. I was really proud of how our team performed and the effort we gave despite being undersized and lacking in training.
As for Bakbakan, we finished as champions, but not without some playoff drama. Our team cruised through the round robin stage undefeated and won most games handily, but when the semifinals and finals came, we were greatly challenged by CAS and CAMP, respectively. They made us uncomfortable with their new game plans and it took a really strong effort from us to finally topple both teams. In the finals, we had to rally from a deficit of more than 10 points with around 3 minutes left to win the game in overtime. It’s not how we imagined we would win, but I definitely cannot question the heart of this team.
UP MEDICS: Has your team participated in other events or competitions outside Palarong Medisina and Bakbakan? If yes, what? If no, do you plan to change that?
Sterling: We have not participated in any leagues other than the two, but we were actually planning to join one or two outside leagues last school year. However, many players usually aren’t available on the weekends so those plans haven’t come to fruition yet.
UP MEDICS: What do you think are your team’s strengths?
Sterling: I believe that our team’s strength is defense. We still have the mentality that “defense wins championships.” We’ve managed to stay relatively close to tough opponents because of our defense.
UP MEDICS: What do you think are your team’s weaknesses or areas that need most improvement?
Sterling: As a team, we definitely need more big men as well as floor spacers or shooters. We’re at an obvious height disadvantage compared to the top finishers in Palarong Medisina and consequently, we have a hard time scoring the basketball.
UP MEDICS: Does the basketball team have regular training sessions? If yes, how often, and what strategies do you use during training? If no, do you plan on changing that? How do you think this affects your team?
Sterling: This year, we’ve been having more trainings than the previous years. Additionally, we’ve been having more organized trainings than before, meaning we’re doing lots of drills, conditioning work, and set plays rather than just playing 5-on-5 scrimmage.
UP MEDICS: How long have you been playing basketball? What made you start playing basketball?
Sterling: I’ve been playing basketball on-and-off since I was around 6 or 7 years old. Honestly I don’t remember what made me start playing basketball, but what I remember was falling in love with playing NBA Live 04 on my PlayStation 2.
UP MEDICS: How long have you been part of the basketball team? Why did you decide to join?
Sterling: I’ve been part of the basketball team since LU3. I was initially recruited during LU2 but at that point I still felt intimidated by the idea of joining the UPCM basketball team since I had no prior experience in joining basketball varsity teams. But I saw that my services were needed as mostly a big man so I took a leap of faith and have no regrets.
UP MEDICS: How do you think being part of the basketball team has affected your life? How do you balance being captain and being a medical student?
Sterling: It is definitely hard to balance the life of being an athlete and a medical student. There are times when there is a training or a game, but there’s also an exam the next day, so some people choose to study but some people choose to play. The most important thing is to be responsible and be able to hold yourself accountable for your choices.
UP MEDICS: Why did you decide to be Captain? How does being captain differ from the other members of the team? (Does it entail additional tasks/responsibilities or an entirely different role?)
Sterling: I’m currently the longest-tenured player on the team together with Darren Khow, so I’d say he’s my co-captain. Honestly it’s not that much difference, because I have a great team and everyone knows that they always have the chance to step up during trainings and games.
UP MEDICS: What position do you play? How do you think this influences your role as Captain?
Sterling: I play primarily the center position. I believe that there are no positions that specifically influence the role of a captain, what is important is to fulfill your role in whatever position you’re assigned to. For me as a center, it’s my job to get rebounds, set screens, find openings so I can get the ball and things like that.
UP MEDICS: What do you feel about LeBron James moving to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard moving to the Raptors?
Sterling: Everyone who knows me knows two things: that I am a diehard loyal Laker and Kobe fan for life and that I absolutely freaking hate LeBron James. But now the funny thing is, I’m actually ecstatic for #LABron to play for the Lakers and I guess I can say that most hate has been lost for LeBron (he better produce good results in LA for me to completely lose my hate for him). As for Kawhi moving to the Raptors, I firmly believe, as most people do, that he will be just a one-year rental for Toronto.
UP MEDICS: What can you say about the fiasco from Gilas’ game against Australia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers?
Sterling: There’s really nothing else to say. It’s extremely disappointing for this unsportsmanlike event to happen in any basketball game. I firmly believe that if anyone holds a grudge, let it out on the court, show it in the way he/she plays. Don’t show it by throwing punches, because that’s a different sport altogether.
UP MEDICS: Free space!!! Anything else you want to say, shoutout/s, quotes of your choosing, etc.
Sterling: The UPCM men’s basketball team appreciates everyone’s continuous support and we will try our best, as always, to be the best team there is.
We look forward to seeing the team play their hearts out in every game, as they have always done. Let’s #ShowOurSupport (#SOS) for them as they represent the college and compete in the upcoming Bakbakan Trese and Palarong Medisina 2019!
Photos courtesy of the legendary Markyn Jared Kho (Class 2020). Many many thanks to team captain Sterling Tiu (Class 2020) for taking the time to answer our questions!