University of Batangas, PUP reap confidence, exposure from V-League

Jane Bracher
Winless squads University of Batangas and Polytechnic University of the Philippines are set for an interesting clash in the Shakey’s V-League 12 Collegiate Conference
Krissa Madalogdog of University of Batangas attacks Arellano University's single coverage. She had 9 points in that game to lead UB in a losing effort. Photo by Jansen Romero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Winless, but not hopeless.

Newcomers University of Batangas and Polytechnic University of the Philippines have yet to win a game in the Shakey’s V-League 12 Collegiate Conference, but they’ve already gained plenty of experience.

The Lady Brahmans, in fact, have built enough confidence to believe they can go much farther when they return next season.

Nangangarap din yung mga bata. Palagi sila may goal (The players have dreams. They always have a goal),” head coach Ahmed Aylion shared his team’s mindset as he expressed intention to participate in the tournament next season.

Nung sa NCAA, pangarap namin magcha-champion din kami tapos nung sumunod na taon champion na kami.

Ngayon ganito pa kami. Pero abangan niyo, meron pa kami ipapakita, meron pa kaming ibang ilalabas sa susunod na pagsali namin dito. Ibang University of Batangas naman yung makikita ninyo.”

(In the NCAA we dreamed of becoming champions and by the next year we were champions. Right now this is where we are. But watch out, we still have more to show, we have more to give when we join this tournament again. You will see a different kind of University of Batangas.)

The defending champions of NCAA-South have yet to score a victory in 4 outings in Group A competiton, suffering losses to the established the UAAP programs of Far Eastern University, National University, and University of the Philippines, as well as a loss against reigning NCAA champion Arellano University.

But their campaign still had a breakthrough as they claimed their first set win against the Lady Maroons last week. It was a mark of the Lady Brahmans’ steady improvement with every game day, when they travel for 1.5 hours from Batangas City to the capital to play.

Kasi sa Batangas kami yung malakas, so pagdating dito sa Manila kami naman yung mahina,” Aylion explained. “Nung first game nangangapa sila, second game gitgitan na, third game nanalo na kami isang set. So ibig sabihin nagi-improve yung mga bata.”

(In Batangas we are the strong team, but here in Manila we are the weak one. In the first game we were adjusting, by the second game it became a close fight, and in the third game we won a set. It means the players are improving.)

So far, UB displayed their strength in floor defense, which UP coach Jerry Yee praised saying it was difficult to get the ball to drop on UB’s side of the court.

Aylion explained he developed the Lady Brahmans’ floor defense mainly because they were composed of smaller players. But with the V-League experience of battling much taller teams, UB is expanding its arsenal as they learn to compensate and adjust.

Natututunan nila paano mag-adjust kung papaano mabo-block or mache-check yung bola ng matatangkad (They are learning how to adjust, how to block or check the attacks of taller players),” said the coach of 3 years, whose squad is also simultaenously competing in the United Calabarzon Collegiate League.

It’s not just players learning a thing or two from the V-League experience. Aylion himself is picking up handy strategies for when UB goes back to its mother league as he took down notes on combination plays and strong blocking.

The all-Batangueña crew has one game left against fellow cellar dweller PUP, which is shaping up to be an interesting clash in its own right.

Malaking tulong sa confidence namin ito,” Aylion said. “Siguro pagbalik namin sa Batangas mas mataas ang self-esteem nila.” (This is a huge boost to us. When we return to Batangas the players’ self-esteem will be high.)

‘Our goal is to win a set’

Like UB, V-League rookie PUP is also milking exposure and much-needed experience from the collegiate league.

Back-to-back champions of the State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) which starts in December, the Lady Radicals have been humbled in the V-League and have yet to win a set in 4 games also in Group A.

WIN ONE SET. Polytechnic University of the Philippines' goal in its final match of the Shakey's V-League 12 Collegiate Conference is to win one set against fellow winless squad University of Batangas. Photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler

Regardless, third year head coach Wendell Padilla is optimistic about his team’s growth.

“Actually the performance of the team now compared to previous matches, it improved,” he explained in Filipino, referring to the Lady Radicals’ defeat at the hands of defending champion Far Eastern University.

“What we expected them to execute they were able to do, which is floor defense and reception. There are improvements but pag dating doon sa hawak or kapit para ma-maintain yung ganoon confidence medyo nawawala. Sa start dikitan pero pag dating sa huli nawawala (when it comes to holding on to maintain that confidence, they lose that. At first the match is close but in the end they fall behind).”

PUP likewise put up a fight against National University on Sunday, August 2, showing some spunk early in sets but still lacking that finishing kick.

Comprised mostly of rookies, the Lady Radicals’ realistic goal is to at least win a set when they meet UB for their last match on Sunday, August 9.

Gusto lang talaga namin lumaban. Ang goal namin makakuha ng set pero possibly makuha yung match,” Padilla said. “Talagang mahihirapan kami doon pero wala naman imposible.”

(We just want to put up a fight. Our goal is to win a set but possibly to win the match. We know it will be very hard but nothing is impossible.)

It’s been an uphill climb for PUP, who, at one point, had a hard time getting training done due to school activities held at their gym. But Padilla is not using that as excuse, saying his players are well-conditioned and chemistry is the bigger problem.

For now, the short-term goal is to go out fighting.

Yung last game namin against UB parang pareho kami ng standing so hopeful kami doon (Our last game against UB, since we have the same standing, we’re hopeful with that),” Padilla said. –