Is It The End Of An Empire?

After losing Game 1 of the best-of-three series against the Ateneo Lady Eagles last Tuesday, the Tigresses of University of Santo Tomas are once again in danger of ending one of the most celebrated streaks in Philippine Volleyball; their V-league Finals appearance.

Since the inception of the Shakey’s V-league, UST has managed to either be the bridesmaids or, most of the time, win the tournament. Now on its 10th season, the España-based squad looks polished to once again battle it out to the end. With homegrown talents Aiza Maizo and Rhea Dimaculangan as guest players, the spectators saw the dominance they seem to have lost last UAAP.

So what exactly went wrong?

“They were really good with their adjustments. After losing the first set, they changed their rotation and pitted the veteran Jeng Bualee against the very young Jessey De Leon. It was a mismatch.” said Head Coach Odjie Mamon.

In Assistant Coach Vilet Ponce De Leon’s opinion, their shaky reception was the final nail in the coffin. According to her “With Ateneo having a feast with their great serves, we actually helped them achieve their goal of winning with our bad reception. Sipag ng kalaban plus katamaran namin, that spelled the difference.”

Now with pressure weighing down on them, the rabid UST fans are one in asking “Is it really the end of the long V-league streak?”

“Nakita naman natin yung kalibre nung apat na teams. I would like to believe that we are at par with them when it comes to the skills. What we need now is mental toughness from the girls. If they can master that, then it’s not yet over. We could still win this.” said Mamon.

Coach Vilet, on the other hand quipped “Right from the beginning, our focus was really to improve our current roster for Season 76. And I think we already achieved that. Pero sana andun ulet. Sana makabalik because the girls are really aching to be in the Finals.”

On my end, watching the girls train the day before Game 2, I saw something change. There was fire in their eyes. There was focus. And there was the will to fight and hunger to win.

Wing spiker Carmela Tunay agrees “I’ll do this for my idol Nang Aiza Maizo. Yung sakripisyo pa lang niya na bumalik dito at iwan yung family niya, it really means a lot to me. I can see how painful it is for her to see the people who used to adore her are now cheering for another team. I want us to win para maibalik namin yung tiwala ng mga tao. Na kami pa rin ang UST team na minahal nila. Nadapa lang kami pero babangon at babangon kami. Lalaban kami.”

With everything at stake, we can expect the girls to go all out to force a do-or-die game on Sunday. It seems almost impossible but that is exactly the reason why we fell in love with them. They are full of ups and downs. Their campaigns are always full of drama. This team is anything but boring. And they are more than ready to take us on another roller coaster ride wherein we will scream, shout, be happy and get scared all at the same time.

And to close my interview with him, Coach Odji very confidently adds “Oo. Babalik tayo sa Ultra sa Sunday for Game 3.”

I don’t know if he’s just taunting the opponent, teasing the fans or he’s actually that sure of his chances on today’s game but I have a feeling this series won’t end here. I guess as a fan, that’s just how I am wired. To refuse to believe that my team will lose. THE EMPIRE DOES NOT END HERE! And if I’m wrong, I only have two things to say. One, it is not the first time. And two, I am one with the millions of fans who believed in them all the way.

Let’s do this! GO USTe!!! 

Ang 2-Year Residency Rule. Bow.

Ayan na nga mga bakla. Hindi umubra si Ate Pia Cayetano. Tuloy pa din ang Jerie Pingoy rule. Tama lang naman. Di dapat gamitin ang UAAP para makapagpa-sikat sa Senado. At hindi naman totally binalewala ng Board ang hinaing ng mga tao. Binalik na nila yung “Release Clause” kung saan puwede nilang i-waive ang 2-year residency rule kung hindi naman magaling ang lilipat. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Aminan na. Binibigay lang nila yan sa’yo pag di ka gaanong kawalan. 

 

Sa personal kong opinyon, bilang taga suporta ng mga teams like UST Volleyball at FEU Basketball, una kong reaksyon ay natuwa. Naisip ko bakit ngayon lang??? Sana nung Season 72 pa. Ehem, Alyssa Valdez, ehem. Hahahaha! Pero kinalaunan, naisip ko yung kapakanan nung mga bata. Paano kung gusto niyang maging Iskolar ng Bayan? O makipag-talastasan ng Inglesan sa Katipunan? O maka-kain ng kwek-kwek at burger araw-araw sa R. Papa sa Morayta? O baket??? Kanya kanyang pangarap yan! Wag ka nga! May iba nga jan, bata pa lang pangarap ng maranasan ang baha sa España. 

 

Pero hayan na ang pinal na desisyon. Tuloy ang parusa para kay Jerie Pingoy. Tuloy ang pagdadamot. Tuloy ang pag protekta sa homegrown talents. Wow. Star Magic??? Hahahaha! Kanya kanyang opinyon. Kanya kanyang dahilan. Kanya kanyang interes. Hayaan na natin. Pansamantala, suportahan na lang natin ng tuloy-tuloy itong numero unong liga sa bansa. Ang mag disagree, taga NCAA. HAHAHAHAHAHAH! NKKLK! 

 

Eto ang statement ng UAAP Board. Go. Read.

 

“The UAAP Board of Trustees, at its Annual Board Meeting held on April 24, 2013, with all of the Member Universities duly represented, promulgated and approved the following explanatory rule to the 2-year residency requirement effective UAAP Season 76:

An incoming collegiate athlete who is a high school graduate from a UAAP Member University and enrolled in another Member University shall take a mandatory two-year residency, except when a prior release is issued by the Member University for the athlete concerned.

The two-year residency requirement from high school to college shall cover incoming student-athletes effective UAAP Season 76 (SY 2013-14). The release form shall be duly signed by any UAAP Board Member of the Member University concerned. “

Old School Benggadora; Blast From The Past

Para sa mga wata na sa Twitter na ako natuklasan, nararapat nyong malaman na ako’y nagmula sa PEx (Pinoyexchange). Ganitong level ang baklaan dati. Hahahaha! Bago ko pa laitin  ang mga players ng ibang team, nilait ko muna ang players ng team ko. Hahahahaha! Basahin niyo. Masaya siya. Season 74 Game Analysis. UST vs ADMU second round. 

 

Hi mga baaaaaaaaaaaaaaks!!!!!! Welcome to the Benggadora Analysis: The Whisper Edishun. Eh bakeeeeet??? Ikaw na mawalan ng Yellow Jackets at maging isa sa mga nag-lead ng UST crowd. Wala talagang matitira sa’yo kundi whisper. And whispering means humility. Let’s be humble in the feet. Because the feet stays on the ground. Ansabeeeeeeeeh????????

 

Fiestang fiesta naman dito. Nagdiriwang na parang championship na. Pero I understand the feeling because the feeling is not gone. The feeling is mutually agreed upon. Ano????? Sabi nga si Superstarmarian, isang SHOUT OUCH sa mga mapang-maliit jan. Di ako nagyayabang mga baks. Gusto ko lang ipakita na.. “Karma Chameleon, Third, International Referee..” -Barker PAKAK! Hahahahahhaha.

 

Okay. Let’s get this show going. Oooooohh! Alamin niyo yan. Dumadami na alam kong english mga baks. Di lang ang girls ang nag-i-improve. Pati english ko. TSARLOT!

 

First Honor, Maru Banaticla – Na-imbyerna ka ba na last ka sa honor roll last week kaya kinapalan mo lalo ang blush??? GANYAN YAAAAN! Sa kapal nito, di ka na macopa. Isa ka ng pagkatamis-tamis at pulang pula na strawberry. Hinog ka na baks! Isa kang pimple sa mukha ng mga kalaban na pagkasakit sakit pag pumutok. Aaaaayy!!!! Sakto. Yellowish ang lumalabas sa pimple. Trust me. I know. I have a lot. Of pimples. Hahahahahaha. Clap, clap, clap ka this game baks. Pag pinagpatuloy mo yan, magiging teammates kayo ni Ferrer sa RP Team. At magkakaron kayo ng Strawberry-Jam Connection. GANYAAAAAAAANNNN!!!!!!!

 

Second Honor, Rhea Dimaculangan – Bakla!!!! Iba ang dedication mo sa team! Sinadya mong mapilay para magising mga kasama mo????? Iba ka. Yan ang suicide mission. Hahahahahha. Sana gayahin din ito ng ibang teams. Ang sadyaing magka-sprain. TSARLOT! Hahahahahha. Pero sa true, it was a blessing in the sky. Hala???? Yung nangyari sa’yo eh nagsilbing reminder sa mga spikers na a setter can only do so much. Get well soon Miss Sassy! AAAAAATTTT!!! Oo nga pala. Ikaw lang nakita kong na-sprain ng nakangiti. Yung totoo teh! Adik ka ba o masokista??????

 

Third Honor, Loren Lantin – Wag na to pag-usapan. Wala naman daw setter ang UST sabi ni Gorayeb. Ano si Lantin?? kathang-isip???? Nagbe-blend sa taraflex???? Ang trulibumblebee, hindi naman talaga siya kasing husay ni Rhea. Pero ang konti ng kaba mo teh. Ang konti! Mga 3. Ganyan. Dahil sa’yo, napatunayan na efficient din ang attackers ng UST. Na hindi sa panlalansi ng setter dinadaan lahat. Napabilib mo’ko kahapon baks. I am proud. pero di kasing proud ng Yaya mo na ang ingay sa CR. Alam mo yan! Hahahahah.

 

Fourth Honor, Pam Lastimosa – Ang laki ng in-improve mo teh! Ang laki ng confidence mo! Ang laki ng puso mo! At ang laki din ng hita mo. YUN NA!!!!! Hahahahahha. Pero teh, ikaw talaga ang nagpanalo offense-wise sa UST. The only reason why hindi ka first honor eh dahil I’m basing my ranking sa intangibles. Panalo tong batang to! Aabangan ko to. Sa kanto. Sapakan tayo. Hahahahahhaa.

 

Fifth Honor, Judy Caballejo – May surprise ako sa’yo!!!!!! Ilalakad kita kay Jackie, Budoy!
Hahahahahahahahhahahahaha. Pag ganyan ng ganyan ang laro mo, promise, kukumbinsihin ko si Mrs. Marasigan na payagan ka ng maging BF ni Jackie. TSARLOT! Hahahahah. Ganda ng opensa mo kahapon, pero yung depensa mo ang mas nag-shine. Ganyan tayo ha?? Repeat after me.. “Ako Budoy. Ako receive ng bola.” Gusto ko marinig! “Ako Budoy. Ako receive ng bola.” Ganyan. Hahahahahhaah.

 

Sixth Honor, Jessy De Leon  – Yung totoo! Ang payat mo. San mo hinuhugot yung malakas na palo mo??? Sa braces??? Pakak na pakak pagkakahugot sa’yo baks. Salamat sa tadyang ng iyong mga magulang. Hahahahaha. Naka-dalawang block ka kahapon! Nalamangan mo na si Gumabao sa Best Blocker award! Agad-agad?????????? Hahahahahahha. Pag pinagpatuloy mo yung ganyan teh, I’m sure, 100%, mawawala sa first six si Mia. Kakaloka!!!! Rigodon ng rigodon!

 

Seventh Honor, Jamie Morado – Nagtatampo ako sa’yo teh. Mahal ka namin. Tuloy tuloy lang. Kaya mo yan! Ipa-ulit-ulit ang sabi ni Mommy Dulce. Wag titigil. “C’mon! Let’s go! Let’s go!” Ganyan. Okay???? Yun lang muna.

 

Eighth Honor, Mia Hirotsuji and Gi Reyes – Anyare mga baks???????? Gi, nung matatangkad ang blockers mo sa DLSU wala kang takot, tapos ngayon na di katangkaran naglaho ka??? So totoo ang chismis??? Takot si maliit sa kapwa bulinggit???? TSARLOT! Hahahahah. Naintindihan namin baks. Pero sana wag ng maulit. Panu kung next time panget *** laro ng ipapalit sa panget niyong laro?? AMPANGET DABAAAAA????! Mia, anu to??? 2 games straight ka ng nasa bottom of the rankings. Anu na lang ang sasabihin ng Tita mong nasa Toronto na nagpapa-aral sa’yo?? Meron???????? Hahahahha. Pasalamat ka at nakabawi ka sa dalawang service aces. mo. Tulis eh! Patusok! Biglang bumababa! Ay. Na-off-topic na’ko. Hindi na yata yung serve ang tinutukoy ko. Kapagod naman kasi! Halos lahat kayo naglaro. Byernuh.

 

Hall of Famer, Maika Ortiz!!!!!! – May ku-kwestiyon pa ba sa pagiging current Queen of Running Spikes mo????? Maliban kay Gohing? CHAROSA ROSAL!!!!! Hahahaha. Oi. Totoo. Hindi facial yung kay Gohing. Sa chest yun. Promise. Mabalik tayo. Atat na atat ka bang maging Team Captain at ibinalandra mo yung paa mo sa babagsakan ni Rhea??? Di ka makapaghintay??? Anu ba naman yung ilang months??? Grabe ka! Pero ang ganda mo teh. Ikaw yung binantayan ng Ateneo. Naka-ilang block sila sa quick mo teh. Aminin natin yan. Unti-unti ka ng nagiging leader. Maging proud ka. Ikaw ang unang hall of famer. Taas noo. Taas pa! Taas paaaa!!!!! Todo na yan???? Sabagay. Inborn pala yang taas noo mong peg. Hahahahaha. Thanks sa picture baks! Dadalhin ko yun hanggang hukay. At ipapakiusap ko kay Lord na pag kinuha niya na ako, isunod niya na yung idol ko. Ikaw. Love you Idol! Hahahahahhaha.

PS:
Husay ng coaches natin!!!!!!!!! Best trio in town. Partida galing pa yang mga yan sa shift nila sa Mini Stop Pinaglabanan ha????? Hahahaha. Love you mga baks!!!!!!! Salamat sa pag appreciate sa crowd kahapon. Maluha-luha ako.

Eto na. Sa UST crowd. Panalo din tayo. Walang drums, walang YJs. Pero tayo ang nanaig. Winona Ryder!!!!! Salamat sa pagsunod sa “U-S-T! Let’s go! Fight!” at sa “One for UST!”. Sana may match-up din ang crowd no??? Aminin niyo. Kung meron, straight sets ito ala-USTvsUE. 25-2. PAKAK!!!!! Good job guys!!!!!!!!!

The Fab 5; A Legacy Built From Scratch

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I remember it was the Christmas break in 2009 and I was shuffling through some channels, hoping to find a good show to watch that lazy December afternoon. My favorite shows weren’t being shown then, so I decided to just watch the volleyball game being shown on Studio 23.

That was not the first time I watched a volleyball game, but at that time, I wasn’t the enthusiast that I am right now. I found myself rooting for the taller team, which was UST. For the most part, I did so, probably because they were wearing yellow, which is my favorite color. I was so amazed at Aiza Maizo, Angge Tabaquero and especially Maru Banaticla. UST went on to lose that game, and they gave in to a spirited Ateneo Lady Eagles. I didn’t notice anyone special on that team except Dzi Gervacio.

Then I continued to watch the rest of Season 72 (in which UST eventually won the championship) and really became hooked with volleyball. At some point, I consciously searched for a team to consistently root for. I wanted to be a loyal fan of some team, like some of my friends who were loyal supporters of the Lakers, Ginebra, or some other team. UP seemed to be the obvious choice because you’re supposed to root for your school, right? But, no offense to the UP volleyball teams, it was hard to root for them for the obvious reasons so my heart (or rather, my brain) looked somewhere else.

Everyone loves the underdogs. And in my eyes, the Lady Eagles were the underdogs that were worth rooting for because they were a really good team. They were then, a bunch of sophomores with a few “veterans.” But I loved how the sophomores, the youngsters in the league, were taking the league by storm. It didn’t hurt that they had the unique onesie uniforms which were unmatched til today. Anyway, they finished the season in 3rd place with the core group being just in their second year. Dzi Gervacio was in the top 10 of both Best Scorers and Best Spikers and Jem Ferrer even went on to win the Best Setter award. And as I continued to watch their games, I fell more and more in love with them, especially that core group, which after a few years will be known to many as the “Fab 5.”

After that UAAP season, I was transformed into a certified fan. 3 UAAP seasons and numerous Shakey’s V-league conferences later, I am now a fan celebrating a closing chapter in the history of my beloved team. UAAP Season 75 marks the graduation of that group of ladies which became the reason why I continued to watch volleyball through the years. Though I’ll continue watching volleyball, it will never be the same for me without the Fab 5.

I will miss A Nacachi and Gretchen Ho. While I concede that they are not the best middle blockers to ever grace the volleyball court, they were good enough considering that they were undersized compared to their counterparts from other teams. I will miss the intensity from each of them to do their role in the team despite the physical disadvantages. I will miss how the volleyball crowd will go wild at the mention of Ho’s name. I will miss their sneaky shots and their seemingly weird form during service. It’s their heart, their passion to do their best for the team’s welfare, which I will miss the most from these two.

I will miss Jem Ferrer. Who wouldn’t miss the 3-time UAAP Best Setter awardee? In my opinion, she was the main reason for the team’s success during the Fab 5 era. It was her that made excellent sets out of crappy receptions. It was her that orchestrated combination plays which took my breath away and converted me into a solid supporter of the team. Ateneo did not have the best nor the tallest attackers, but Ferrer’s smarts, court sense and awesome setting skills propelled them to the top. Executing combination after combination play to confuse the opponent’s blockers was Ferrer’s thing. And dropping the second ball to the other side is now considered as “taking a page out of Jem Ferrer’s book” by most commentators. It was also Ferrer, along with Gervacio, that provided the spunk which the team badly needed at crucial moments. She may be the smallest when you talk about height. But when you talk about leadership and volleyball smarts, she is the team’s biggest contributor.

I will miss Fille Cainglet. I will miss the lady who was the main reason I fell in love with the sport and the team in general. I love people who defy stereotypes. And boy, did she. With her lithe frame, you wouldn’t even think that she’s an athlete. She looked like she wouldn’t be an efficient hitter because she was “girly” and lacked power in her attacks. But through the years, she has shown that finesse can very well compete with height and power. Though she didn’t really possess much power, she was, in Seasons 73 and 74, the team’s main scorer. On the defensive end, she acts like a second libero whenever she’s in the backline. Prolific as she was, she always saw to it that she’s having fun during each game. I’ll miss her attacks, but I’ll miss that smile and bubbly personality of hers more than anything. Her smile was her game face. A bundle of joy, that definitely is FilleCainglet.

Finally, I will also miss Dzi Gervacio. The main reason for the team’s success during the Fab 5’s first 2 years. For me, she’s the embodiment of the word “fighter.” Had a bad Season 73, was transferred to the utility position, and came back with a vengeance. I saw in Gervacio what Ateneo’s battlecry is, “One Big Fight!” She faced a setback, but used it as a motivation to improve her game by leaps and bounds. Come Season 74, she was spiking, blocking, digging, receiving and serving like she never did before. She was, during that season, Ateneo’s best bet in the MVP race as she racked up points from numerous departments. She continued her stellar game in the V-league in which she led the statistical race for the MVP award once again. Though the award was not given to her, she was, in the heart of many fans, THE MVP. I will miss her intensity, her attitude, her reaction whenever she gets a block, her power and (try as I might to not mention it here, I have to) her jump serve. She may have been inconsistent at it during her first few years, but when she perfected it, it was a thing of beauty. I will never forget the oohs and aahs of the crowd whenever she executes that topspin jump serve of hers. Many tried to do the same thing, her teammate Cainglet included, but no one came close to the beauty (and potency) of her version. An overall game with a whole lot of heart, that is what she offers and that is what we’ll all miss from this girl.

They may have never tasted a UAAP championship but their legacy will never be forgotten. From cellar dwellers, they have transformed the Ateneo team into a solid Final Four contender. Yes, their journey was filled with inconsistencies, lapses, uncanny losses and gripping 5-setters. Yet, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. True blue student-athletes from the inside out, that’s what they are. Their collegiate careers may have ended, but their contributions for the growth of the sport will forever remain, especially in the hearts of their fans. As they say, all good things must come to an end. But with endings also come beginnings. While we fans see it as a new chapter for the Ateneo volleyball program as they start rebuilding once again, it can also be said that it is a beginning of a new chapter of their lives. Life after college volleyball. We can now thank them for those 5 years of giving us the opportunity to see them play and pour their hearts out on the volleyball court. And we can now wish them the best in their pursuit of this new chapter, may it be professional volleyball, employment, further studies or whatever it may be. And for the last time, thank you and One Big Fight, FAB 5! -by Harvey Aquino Bilang (@HarvsCount)

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Photos courtesy of Jem Ferrer and Deal Or No Deal Images