Losing is habit forming.
Such is the case of the Lyceum Junior Pirates in the NCAA high school division.
For three straight NCAA seasons, and through the first five games of the 90th season, the Junior Pirates owned an unenviable 59 straight losses, dating back to 2011. And that includes a humiliating 157-point defeat to San Beda, 14-171 in 2012.
No wonder, when former Ateneo Blue Eagle guard LA Mumar was tasked to oversee the team’s “resurrection” from three forgettable seasons, nobody believed this team can win.
But eight months since taking the head coaching job, Mumar slowly infused a winning attitude into a team that has been so used to losing.
“Change of mindset. I had to build their confidence during the summer dahil palaging talo,” shared Mumar, whose team made history on July 26 when it registered a hard-earned 59-57 victory over the EAC Brigadiers for the school’s very first victory in league history, snapping a five-game losing skein to start this season.
Four days later, the Junior Pirates stopped the Perpetual Junior Altas, 68-62 for the team’s first back-to-back wins in the school’s history.
Currently, Lyceum carries a 3-8 win-loss mark, after adding the La Salle Greenies in its list of victims with a 68-63 win.
LA, who comes from a family of historic basketball figures, said the first order of the day the moment he took over the team was to teach the fundamental of the game.
Passing, shooting along with a constant encouragement to have fun while playing.
“No pressure since everybody expects us to lose,” he added.
Being a Christian, who believes in the power of speaking life even in difficult situations, coach Mumar said part of the team’s turnaround was a weekly team meeting where he shares a Bible verse, discusses it to them and encourages them to trust God each day.
“Speak life and confidence lang ako sa kanila, motivate and encourage them na kaya nila. Kasi they have to believe that they can win. That they can compete. Iyun talaga ang focus ko,” he added.
Like the Gilas Pilipinas team, which is the shortest squad competing in the Fiba World Cup this year, coach Mumar said all he wanted was to see his team carry an identity that could slowly get the Junior Pirates out of the dubious distinction they’ve carved for themselves during their first three years in the NCAA.
“We are not the most talented, tall, athletic or skilled team. But our goal was to be the hardest working team sa NCAA. Work for every possession, yun lang,” stressed Mumar.
We can all learn a lesson from these Lyceum players – when seemingly insurmountable odds upon us, face them squarely.
Trust God. Pray. Believe that He can perform miracles amidst great odds.
For He promised to “never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5)