After winning first UAAP opening game, Pons' advice: 'Walang mag-iingat'
MANILA, Philippines – Five years after Season 75, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws finally secured a win over Ateneo in a 5-set opening game on Sunday, February 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After equalizing the game at two sets apiece, the Lady Tams' slow start in the 5th set registered into the crowd's minds that it will be Ateneo's game as FEU trailed 6-1. But for the Morayta-based squad, it was far from over.
FEU's resiliency came when it mattered the most as it countered with 5 unanswered points to tie the score at 6-all. FEU finished the match by rallying back from a 7-9 disadvantage to take game with a 8-0 run.
Among the Lady Tamaraws, team captain Bernadeth Pons was the most ecstatic of them all as she can finally put it into the books that she has led the team to an opening game win – a first in her record as a UAAP player.
"Sobrang happy. Napag-usapan din namin sa last set, sabi ko in my past 4 years in the UAAP, never pa kami nanalo ng first game sa UAAP. So ito pang-5th year ko na so yun nga, napag-usapan din namin na last na, na hopefully mangyari siya ngayon. So nangayari 'yon," said Pons.
(So happy. We talked about it during the last set, I said that in my past 4 years in the UAAP, we never won a first game in the UAAP. So it's my 5th year now and we were able to talk about it being the last and hopefully [a win] will happen. So it happened.)
Despite the slow start, everyone saw a different FEU team this season. Pons reminded her teammates to not be too careful nor let the pressure of going into a 5th set take over them.
"Kasi yung mga past years namin sa UAAP, pagka dumating ng 5th set, parang natatakot na kami magkamali, parang iingatan na namin ang lahat ng gagawin namin, which is lalong nagkakamali kami so yun yung advise ko bago magstart ng 5th set," explained Pons.
(Because in our past years in the UAAP, when it comes to the 5th set, it's like we'd get scared that we would make mistakes, like we would be too careful in everything we'd do, which results to more mistakes, so that was my advise before the 5th set started.)
The 5th year player also experienced her first win over Ateneo – a UAAP finalist in the last 7 seasons. In Season 79, the Lady Tamaraws were able to bring the contest to a deciding match, but Ateneo's maturity on the court prevailed over the FEU squad. Pons admitted that the Ateneo team may be young this year, but most of the players have made a finals appearance in their career.
"Ateneo is Ateneo. Marami silang experience sa finals so sanay na sila sa mga ganyang labanan. So kami, pagdating sa ganoon, medyo talo kami sa kanila kasi sila, lumalaban sila sa finals, kami, never pa kami pumasok ng finals. So yun lang yung advantage nila sa amin."
(Ateneo is Ateneo. They have a lot of experience in the finals so they are used to those kinds of games. So for us, when it get to that, we're a bit disadvantaged because they have been competing in the finals and we haven't been into the finals. So that's their only advantage over us.)
For the Lady Tamaraws, they built their maturity during the offseason as half of the them, including Pons, were able to participate in professional volleyball leagues such as the PVL and PSL and experienced championship level plays.
The Lady Tamaraws were also able to gift their head coach George Pascua a birthday present as he celebrated this birthday with a win.
FEU will face Adamson next on Saturday, February 10, 2 pm at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan. – Rappler.com