‘Passion for sports’

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest speaker. Aside from receiving the Presidential Award for supporting Cebu tennis, sportsman Jose R. Gullas will also give an inspirational message in the SAC-SMB Sports Awards at the Ayala Activity Center today. (Contributed Foto)


CEBUANO philanthropist, educator and sportsman Jose “Dodong” R. Gullas will be the honored guest in today’s 33rd Sportswriters Association of Cebu-San Miguel Brewery (SAC-SMB) All-Cebu Sports Awards at the Activity Center of Ayala Center Cebu. The three-hour program promptly starts at 3 p.m.

Gullas, executive vice-president of the University of the Visayas, will not only grace the star-studded affair as a motivational speaker, but also as a special awardee. He is set to receive the Presidential Award for his contribution and dedication to the development of Cebu sports, specifically in the field of tennis.

Gullas will be feted for having founded the JRG Gullas Cup, a tried and tested breeding ground of Cebuano tennis champions since its inception in 1995. It’s also the first event to garner a Group 2 sanction by the Philippine Tennis Association.

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Now on its 20th year, the JRG Gullas Cup takes pride for being the longest-running tennis tournament outside of Metro Manila. One of the most important events in the Philippine tennis calendar, it also stands as the most sought-after junior tennis competition in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Through the years, the JRG Gullas Cup has minted several national champions, most notable among them are Jacob Lagman, Fitzgerald Tabura, Sally Mae Siso, Oswaldo Dumoran, and even Francis Casey “Niño” Alcantara, the 2009 Australian Open junior doubles champion.

Unknown to many, Gullas is also an outstanding sportsman who rose from the ranks as a champion basketball athlete to coach, team manager and eventually president of Cebu’s premiere inter-school athletic league.

As a player, Gullas was the co-captain of the late Eduardo ‘Skipper” Cabahug when the UV Green Lancers defeated NCAA champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, 74-63, to win the 2nd National Inter-Collegiate Basketball Championships at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila in 1957. It was the first ever televised game in the history of Philippine basketball.

For his exemplary performance during that record-setting triumph, Gullas was later invited to join the national team that included Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga. He, however, politely declined the offer.

After his playing years, Gullas continued to make an impact, this time as a tactical coach who guided the UV Lancers to another championship glory on the national stage in the late ‘60s. He was the one who called the shots when UV stunned the UE Red Warriors, then coached by the legendary Virgilio
“Baby”Dalupan, in the semifinals of the 1967 National Inter-Collegiate Championship at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. They subsequently seized the prestigious crown after they bested their bitter rivals Southwestern University (SWU) Cobras in the tournament’s first all-Cebu finals.

Even if he already wears a champion’s badge both as a player and a coach, Gullas never stopped in his pursuit for excellence. That was his chief driving force in carving another niche in Cebu sports as a team manager who effectively motivated his wards to always perform above par.

Guided by his great principles and work ethics, Gullas powered the UV Lancers to two National Inter-Collegiate titles – the first was in 1974 at the USC-Main gym when they bested the La Salle Green Archers, then led by Lim Eng Beng who was later honored as one of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players of All Time. Two years later in Baguio City, the Lancers made it a golden double under the stewardship of Gullas after they conquered the UE Red Warriors to snare the coveted crown.

From a decorated player to a multi-titled team manager, Gullas also left an indelible mark as a league leader, interestingly on three different eras starting off in 1971 when he was installed as president of the Cebu Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), the precursor of what is now known by the younger generation as the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi).

As the head of CCAA,Gullas pushed for the unity of the once divisive Cebu basketball scene, believing that the growth of Cebu basketball strongly depends in it. He went on to take reins of the league when it became the Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA) not just once but twice in 1989 and 1999, coincidentally the last time CAAA came to existence as it was later renamed to CESAFI.

Gullas made his mark as a trail-blazing leader when he assumed as president of the 5th CESAFI season in 2005. It was at this time when he set a trend by introducing the home-and-away format for the first time in local basketball.

Aside from bringing the league closer to fans, the home-and-away format coupled with at least four out-of-town games within Metro Cebu also brought an unprecedented financial revenue to the league under the dynamic leadership of Gullas.

An all-around sportsman beyond compare, Gullas deserves to be honored in the world of Cebu sports. (Pooled Report)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 31, 2015.

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