Mendoza: Luisita secret in PAL Seniors runaway win

Al S. Mendoza

ALL things must pass; even the good ones.

Canlubang must now take that to heart.

Nothing lasts. All is temporary. Even cockroaches, despite their ability to survive a nuclear catastrophe, will perish in the end.

And so, to Canlubang, almost the perennial PAL Interclub Seniors champ, it is imperative for it to take the natural action from here on: Move on.

Yes, the Sugar Barons from Laguna lost their two-year-old PAL Interclub Seniors crown in Davao because Luisita’s Titans from Tarlac were simply too dominating this year.

No, not only because Tommy Manotoc was absent, crippling Canlubang’s bid to retain the crown.

Everybody knows that Manotoc (now in the US) has always been the anchor of many victorious Canlubang squads. He was more than the team’s spiritual leader—a fierce competitor always capable of practically shouldering Canlubang to victory.

But even if Manotoc, 67, was around, it would not have mattered. Luisita’s new battle plan had keyed up the Tarlaquenos’ stunning wire-to-wire victory.

Luisita reclaimed the crown using a strategy never before seen in the 31-year history of the fabled PAL event.

Long suffering from a title drought, Luisita leaned on Jeric Hechanova, who would respond with an uncanny strategy: He used the league’s chief criterion for a team to qualify participation: Age.

Seniors play in the PAL Seniors Interclub called for teams to field players 55 years old or above.

Jeric, the newly-designated non-playing Luisita team captain, came up with the idea of recruiting mostly within the 55-58 age bracket.

Thus, this year, Luisita had three players aged 55, two aged 59, one aged 57 and two aged 60. They are Allan Alegre, Rodel Mangulabnan, Chito Laureta, Eddie Bagtas, Benjie Sumulong, Raffy Garcia, Jingy Tuason and Edmund Yee.

Result: Luisita won convincingly, gallantly retaking the crown it had previously held 15 times in the last 30 years.

Here’s a glass to Jeric, who won his first PAL Interclub seniors crown as Luisita skipper.

His secret, again?

“We brought in young, fresh 55-58 year-old players instead of retaining our former mid 60’s players,” Jeric said.

Here’s to the young at heart.