The Lady Spikers may have only lost twice all tournament but for 11-time champion coach Ramil De Jesus, the team’s journey to a three-peat was a tough one.
La Salle experienced struggles right from the beginning of the season. With a couple of close shave wins and unexpected setbacks in the first round, it became clear then that the team will be hard-pressed to defend their championship. With the risk of dropping out of the top two, they needed something that will break them out of their slump.
And it took one strong statement from Coach Ramil after their loss to Adamson last February 24 to turn things around – “Pambarangay lang laro nyo!”
The Lady Spikers have not lost a single game since then.
From Tiebreaker Times
Since calling out the Lady Spikers, De Jesus saw his team play with a fire. They ended up winning the next 11 games en route to their 11th program title, losing just four sets in the process.
Looking back, De Jesus himself thought he was misinterpreted by fans and media. But he knew exactly how his players would take it.
“Well ayung sinabi ko naman na ‘yun, not necessary na pambarangay. Kumbaga, sinabi ko ‘yung word na pambarangay, sa barangay magulo, hindi naman ‘yung tipong ‘yung laro,” De Jesus quipped.
“Kasi sa barangay kasi, pwede na ‘yung for fun, ganon lang. Hindi naman ganoon totally.
“Medyo pinalaki lang ng ano. Hindi ganoon ang ibig kong sabihin noon. Kung hindi ko naman siguro sinabi ‘yung ganoon… Sa mga bata kasi, kilala na kasi ako ng mga ito eh,” he pointed out. “Kung ano man ang sabihin ko, alam nila kung bakit ko sinasabi ‘yun. And sa ngayon siguro, ano, isang key ‘yun para iayos nila ang sarili nila, pero kaya ako nagsalita ng ganoon, hindi ko gusto ang performance nila. ‘Yun lang ‘yun. So nag-work naman.”
De Jesus admitted that early in the tournament, the team needed a lot of adjustments especially since Kim Fajardo has already graduated. Though Michelle Cobb did a fine job taking over the setter position, there were growing pains.
Good thing that the players responded to the call and were able to address whatever flaws they had in their game in the first round.
De Jesus admired the patience and perseverance of his wards.
“Ready naman sila na maayos ang sarili nila. Alam mo na hindi ganun ka-tibay yung team. Nawala yung mako-consider ko na number one setter sa Pilipinas, si Kim Fajardo. Mahirap palitan yun,” De Jesus added. “’Pag setter nawala, shaky ang team.”
“Very thankful ako nag-step up si Cobb,” said De Jesus of Cobb, who averaged 8.26 excellent sets per frame in the eliminations and 6.3 sets per frame in the Finals.
Despite the graduation of Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili, Coach Ramil is confident that there will be others who will step up next year to take their place. He has seen this so many times in his 20 seasons of coaching the Lady Spikers.
Once the championship celebration is over, the team will get back to work as they look to accomplish a rare four-peat in UAAP Season 81.