MANILA, Philippines – If there was one lesson the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses have shown they’ve learned this season, it’s that hard work truly pays off.
After a shaky start that left them wandering at the middle of the elimination ladder, the Tigresses welcomed the second round with only two dropped games so far. Their 25-20, 25-21, 25-16 victory against the University of the Philippines only appeared to be an exclamation point, a statement that they refuse to be overlooked.
Now with an 8-5 win-loss slate, the Tigresses momentarily savor the 3rd seed – a slot in this year’s semifinals within comfortable reach.
With this advantage already in the palm of their hands, the girls of España have kept in mind to not let this opportunity go to waste.
“Ang inspiration namin is makapasok talaga ng Final Four,” team captain Sisi Rondina shared when asked about her team’s previous win streak. “Gusto ko ma-feel ‘yun as a junior player, gusto ko mabigyan ang UST ng magandang end of the season.”
“Maganda sa amin kasi maraming aalis, para ito [Final Four] sa legacy ng mga aalis.”
(Our inspiration really is to make it to the Final Four. I want to feel it as a junior player, I want to give UST a good season. It’s also for the legacy of our graduating players.)
Apart from giving back to the UST community, Rondina, all smiles on and off the court, has found the biggest inspiration for her to keep going.
The Cebu native has recently reunited with her Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) mother whom she hadn’t seen in 14 years. The emotional reunion took place as her mom, who flew in from Brunei, paid Rondina a visit last Wednesday, March 29 after UST’s match against defending champions La Salle.
Hey ma!!! Ingat sa Cebu please hug them tight for me! Miss youuu alreadyyy i love you pic.twitter.com/6irJpp9D4g— Cherry Ann Rondina (@Rondina011) March 30, 2017
Although fresh from a loss, Rondina stepped onto the court on Sunday with grit and confidence. Her smile, beyond the Final Four talks, was undoubtedly fueled by the pacifying thought that her family is once again complete.
“Inspired ako kasi kumpleto na ulit ‘yung family ko,” said Rondina. “Kalma na ako kasi alam kong hindi na mahihirapan ‘yung nanay ko.”
“Hindi na siya mahihirapan sa Brunei. Kasama na niya family ko and ‘yun, may mag-aalaga na sa nanay ko.”
(Yes, I’m inspired because my family’s complete again. I’m at peace knowing that my mom can finally rest. She’s with my family now, and someone can take care of her.)
With the reunion serving as motivation, Rondina hopes, in the meantime, to channel all the hard work for her team’s final push to snatch a semis berth. Though she has been tasked to guide the Tigresses as captain, the third-year spiker notes that it’s all about complete team effort at the end of the day.
“Hindi ko tina-trato ang sarili ko as captain knowing na maraming beterano sa team namin,” mused Rondina.
“[Pero] gusto ko sabihin sa kanila na stick lang tayo sa goal natin, trabaho lang nang trabaho. Eto na ‘yun eh, nasa palad na natin. So kailangan nating trabahuhin para makapasok talaga.”
(I don’t treat myself as captain knowing that there are many veterans on our team. But I want to tell them that we should stick to our goal, to just keep on working. This is it, it’s in the palm of our hands already. We just need to work for it so we can enter the Final Four.)
The Tigresses will have their final elimination round game against National University on Saturday, April 8 – the results of which may dictate who stays and who’s in grave danger of getting eliminated.
Semifinals or not, Rondina can still hold on to the peace of knowing that her major source of strength and inspiration is out there cheering her on, from not too far away this time around. －Rappler.com
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