Ateneo gets last laugh after title win: 'People counted us out'
MANILA, Philippines –It took one straight-set loss for the Ateneo Lady Eagles to wake up, and they made the rise worth the wait for their fans.
Mirroring UST’s Game 1 performance, Ateneo turned up the heat in Game 3 and drubbed the Golden Tigresses in sweeping fashion to seize the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball championship. (READ: Ateneo breaks UST’s heart, reclaims UAAP volleyball crown)
As head coach Oliver Almadro put it, they needed that loss and the warranted doubt from the fans for them to win it all.
“First, it’s not how you start, it’s how you end it,” he said in his first interview since clinching the finals spot against FEU. “We lost the first match of the [finals]. Many people counted us out. Bobo daw outside hitter namin, wala kaming receive, wala kaming defense, but we made it.”
(They said our outside hitters are stupid and we didn’t have good reception and defense, but we made it.)
“We will not be [those] perfect players. I will not be that perfect coach, but we worked as a team. We worked as a family. That’s what’s important,” he continued. “Sometimes, talent, science and skills are not important. What’s important is how you train, how you trust each other and how you put the faith in God.”
Indeed, fortunes looked bleak for the Lady Eagles after UST’s dominant Game 1 victory, but they cranked up their defensive prowess at the right time and didn’t give up a frame since Set 2 the previous game.
“I told them when we lost the first game, it’s not important,” Almadro said. “What’s important is the last game of the season and indeed, last game of the season. It took Game 3. It’s really written. The Lord has plans and we really have to believe in His plans. No matter what challenges, whatever those are, we give it to You. The Lord fulfills His promises.”
“They counted out everybody, but I trusted them,” he continued. “That’s the most important thing of all. You trust your family. This is family.”
After he won 3 titles in the men’s ranks, Almadro now claims his first collegiate championship with the Lady Eagles. But even in his finest hour, he’s downplaying his role in it all.
“Thank you very much for the players, for trusting me. The system is not yet perfect, but they trusted the system. They really worked hard. I’m just an instrument. They really were the ones who worked for it. Thank you.” – Rappler.com