Ponggay Gaston stars for Ateneo Lady Eagles as a libero
MANILA, Philippines – With Ateneo's rookie libero Dani Ravena out for two to 3 more weeks, head coach Anusorn "Tai" Bundit made a move that stunned everyone.
Instead of choosing one of his other 3 liberos, coach Tai sent out utility spiker Ponggay Gaston to cover floor defense as the starting libero on Wednesday's game against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws.
It turned out to be a good move for the Lady Eagles as Gaston was able to help pull up Ateneo's team receptions to 20 with 7 of her own that contributed to the straight set victory over the Lady Tamaraws.
"Sobrang malaking factor kasi ginawang libero si Ponggay kasi matigas 'yung arms, I guess, mas nakaka-receive siya. Maganda 'yung receives today. Konti lang ang errors namin and everything," said team captain Maddie Madayag.
(It was really a big factor that Ponggay was made the libero because her arms are strong, I guess, and she can receive more. Her receives are good today. We only had a few errors and everything.)
The Lady Eagles and Gaston herself were actually surprised at this experiment. Gaston only had a day to practice on her receives and do libero drills with coach Tai.
"Yesterday lang, as in yesterday lang sinabi ni coach Tai, nag-training kami ng libero," said Gaston.
(Only yesterday, as in coach Tai just told me yesterday, we trained for a libero.)
Eventually, the move not only solved the Lady Eagles' defensive woes, but also Gaston's condition as she currently suffers from a left ankle sprain.
"Well kasi I have a sprain, so iniisip ko na lang na 'yun na lang ang trabaho ko: mag-receive at saka dumepensa kung kaya. Pero 'yun na lang ang iniisip ko kasi I don't have to jump. Talagang 'yung focus ko lang is to do my job, and to make my teammates happy," said Gaston.
(Well because I have a sprain, so I just think that that's my job instead: to receive and to defend if I can. But that what I was thinking because I don't have to jump. My focus is just to really do my job and make my teammates happy.)
Ever since she entered Ateneo, Gaston was subjected to numerous position changes. Fresh out of high school, Gaston was a middle blocker but was switched to an open spiker and utility spiker. Now, she was tasked to be a libero.
For Gaston, she is willing to accept whatever position coach Tai gives her. Coach Tai knows best on what can help the whole team, said Gaston.
"Parang tanggap lang ng tanggap ng kahit anong binibigay ni Coach Tai, kasi siya naman ang may alam kung anong maganda sa team," explained Gaston.
(It's like I just accept whatever Coach Tai gives me because he is the one who knows what is best for the team.)
"Kasi hindi naman ako first 6, so my job is to help the first 6, and if it means be ready for any position, pumasok ka, gawin mo 'yung trabaho mo. Yun ang iniisip ko."
(Because I am not part of the first 6, so my job is to help the first 6, and if it means to be ready for any position, I should go in and do my job. That's what I am thinking.) – Rappler.com