MANILA, Philippines – Just 5 days after her stint for PSL-F2 Logistics Manila wrapped up, Mika Reyes is out preparing for another ride – this time awaiting her flight back to Manila from Dumaguete – where she and her teammates participated in training and team building activities. The former Lady Spiker wasted no time in getting into tiptop shape for the Grandprix Conference in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL), which begins November 3.
But that doesn’t mean she had already recovered from the high of playing for the national team at the recently concluded 2016 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship.
“I can’t find the right words to say, but it was extravagant, in a way,” gushed Reyes, who plays for the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the PSL.
“Before, iniisip ko na hindi ako magiging part ng national team. Ngayon lang ako parang na-expose, kumbaga nag-represent ng country.”
(Before, I thought I would not be part of the national team. It is only now that I got this exposure to represent the country.)
Reyes was the last local player to be handed a golden ticket to the FIVB Championship, completing the All-star cast of Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Jen Reyes, Ces Molina, Jaja Santiago and DLSU teammate Kim Fajardo.
Transitioning from the green and white to facing the world’s best was not an easy task for the volleyball star. In her case, stepping onto the world stage meant doubling the effort – physically and mentally.
“Nagdagdag ako for conditioning, kasi ongoing din ‘yung PSL second conference. So sabi ko as much as possible, double effort. Once the (PSL) tournament starts, maganda na ‘yung condition ko,” said Reyes. “At syempre, ‘yung mental preparation kailangan din talaga.”
(I did more conditioning, because the PSL second conference is also ongoing. So I told myself that as much as possible, I should double my effort. So that once the [PSL] tournament starts, I would be in good condition.)
(And of course, the mental preparation was also very important.)
Best things in life come unexpected
While the whole tournament still felt like a dream for Reyes, she funnily recalls that her most unforgettable moment was the second she stepped onto the court for the first time. And – as you guessed it – she didn’t see it coming.
“Tumatawa pa kami sa bench, nag-chicheer pa kami sa starters,” recalled Reyes. “Pero alam ko at that moment, nag-smile ako.”
(We were laughing at the bench, we were cheering the starters on. But I know, at that moment, I just smiled.)
“I told myself, I will enjoy the game. I will enjoy the time.”
“Very short time, pero kumbaga quality minutes ‘yung magawa ko.”
(Very short time, but I wanted to put up quality minutes for the team.)
The Manila team may have found themselves at the bottom of the pack during the tournament – settling for the eight place – but it was definitely all smiles for our country, who got to witness world class volleyball in the flesh.
Donning the national colors is every athlete’s dream. While it was a great opportunity for the former DLSU standout, she’s hoping that it won’t be the last. Given the chance, she would love the opportunity to go face-to-face once again with her idols from the world stage.
“Ibang volleyball experience talaga siya na nadala dito sa Manila,” mused Reyes. “Sobrang iba [sa collegiate league]. Dito ‘yung mga naglalaro, mga Olympians. Mga best of the best na ang makakalaban mo.”
(It was a different kind of volleyball experience brought to Manila. It’s very different from the collegiate league. In this tournament, you play with the Olympians. You play against the best of the best.)
Reyes likewise holds on to the hope that after the country’s FIVB hosting, more Filipinos would get engaged and attracted to the world of volleyball. While the fans did enjoy the high-caliber volleyball sighting, she said that the sport is still on a different level of exposure than basketball – which is still the Philippines’ most popular sport.
“Ngayon, starting palang tayo. We’re trying to build a community, to encourage and influence more audiences. Right now, iba ‘yung exposure niya talaga [compared to basketball].”
(Right now, we’re just starting. We’re trying to build a community, to encourage and influence more audiences. Right now, volleyball is on a different level of exposure compared to basketball.)
For now, Reyes is back in the local leagues and taking it one step at a time. The 3-time UAAP champion can only hope that her team’s recent outing for Philippine volleyball would not only engage more viewers, but also encourage aspiring youngsters to not be afraid in pursuing their dream of playing sports.
“I want them to know that it is more than just a game; [sports] is something that will help you mold and develop your whole being,” stated Reyes.
“In my own simple ways, I just want to inspire and motivate a lot of people.” – Rappler.com
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