Finals Preview: DLSU Lady Spikers vs ADMU Lady Eagles

The De La Salle University Lady Spikers are back in the Finals and for the sixth straight time, they will once again face their archrivals – the Ateneo Lady Eagles. To no one’s surprise, these two teams emerged as the top two squads after the elimination rounds and managed to take care of their respective opponents in the Final Four. Now at the biggest stage of the Season, the Lady Spikers will look to defend their crown against an Ateneo team they haven’t beaten all season long.

Cream of the Crop

The road to the Finals was not as easy as both teams would have liked, with La Salle losing early in the first round of the season to the University of the Philippines in straight sets then losing to the Lady Eagles twice while Ateneo losing their two matches against the National University Lady Bulldogs.

DLSU dropped a total of 11 sets during the elimination rounds, six of which came at the hands of Ateneo. The Lady Eagles on the other hand, gave up 12 sets. The Lady Spikers had a relatively easier time against their opponents as they lost only one set in the second round prior to their loss against Ateneo while their rivals had set losses left and right. To say that DLSU finally got their groove in the second round would be an understatement. The Lady Spikers did not only beat their respective opponents but they dominated them. They even held a Final Four team in Far Eastern University to only five points in one set and also held NU, a team which beat Ateneo twice, to only 11 and 12 points in two sets of their second round meeting.

When it comes to skills, DLSU is commandingly leading the league in three: categories, receiving, setting, and of course blocking while Ateneo leads the league in two categories, which are attacking and serving. La Salle, though, only trails Ateneo by a small margin when it comes to serving and is also not far behind when it comes to attacking as they place second and third in those categories while Ateneo’s defensive stats are not exactly close to La Salle’s, especially in blocking where Ateneo is only fifth in the league.

Even with the lead when it comes to skills and sets lost, La Salle however, has yet to solve the Ateneo puzzle.

Captain Duel

Undeniably the best setters in the league and arguably the two most talented players this season, the side battle of captains, Kim Fajardo and Jia Morado, will be as exhilarating as the game itself.

Setters are as valuable to a volleyball team as point guard to a basketball team; they are the playmakers that set the pace and control the flow of their respective teams. But more than just setting duties, Kim and Jia have proven time and again that there is more to them than just being setters. These two are also the captains of their teams and are not just the best setters in the league but also the best servers; with Kim leading Jia in both categories.

The question as to which the better player is will always be open-ended. As for Kim Fajardo, she does not dwell too much on their so-called rivalry as she feels that they have different styles, “Si Jia pareho kaming setter at alam namin kilos ng spikers namin, sa diskarte nalang kami magkakatalo” says Kim “Magkaiba kami ng spikers sa court kaya hindi magkapareho yung play namin at hindi same yung skills kaya diskartihan nalang kami”. Kim also sees Jia as the player she needs to watch out for in the Finals for the simple reason that it is only Jia who will make plays for her spikers.

Depth

Unlike in other sports where bench players are used in every game, substitutions in volleyball are not as common. There are even times where a whole game is played without a single substitution made. However, when push comes to shove and a change is needed, these small moments could spell the difference between victory and defeat.

As for the depth of the benches of both teams, without a doubt they have highly reliable players that could deliver when called upon. The likes of May Luna, Michelle Cobb and Arriane Layug for La Salle and Kim Gequillana, Jules Samonte and Deanna Wong for Ateneo.

In the previous games this Season, coach Ramil has used a rotation wherein he brings in Michelle Cobb in exchange for Kim Dy when at the service line. This rotation can prove to be useful as it will give Kim Fajardo a chance to score points for DLSU as an extra attcker in front. May Luna on the other hand has proven that she can score a string of points in a hurry when more fire power is needed in the open position. Meanwhile, Arriane Layug is usually subbed in with Michelle Cobb to be an extra attacker as Kim Dy moves to the back. Another sub which coach Ramil can opt for.

On the flip side, Ateneo’s Kim Gequillana is known to be their service specialist but in the previous Seasons she has shown that she can also be an effective attacker while rookie Jules Samonte, who came from De La Salle Zobel, was one of the catalysts in Ateneo’s win over La Salle in the second round. Deanna Wong has also been a revelation as an alternate Libero for the Lady Eagles.

Indeed both teams have deep benches, and these bench players can prove to be game-changers for their respective teams.

Defense vs Offense

The number one defensive team versus the number one offensive team in the league is a matchup that could not get any better. Numbers indeed do not lie but in the two games where the Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles clashed, the girls from Taft had the upper hand in every single skill and yet they fell against their Katipunan-based counterparts on both occasions.

Errors. As all the numbers tilt in favor of La Salle, unfortunately, so do their errors. In both meetings against Ateneo this season, the Lady Spikers committed a gleaming 22 more errors than their opponents. What makes the numbers even worse is that they made those errors in the latter stages of the sets they lost. “Sa errors lang talaga. Lalo na sa second game, unforced errors talaga madami. Kasi lamang naman kami sa blocking, sa attack, lamang kami sa lahat ng skills yung unforced errors lang talaga yung factor bakit kami natalo.” Says last Season’s best blocker, Majoy Baron.

DLSU lost both elimination games against ADMU but the second game can be considered to be more painful as it was tainted by some controversial calls that went against the Lady Spikers, and for libero Dawn Macandili, those calls were momentum-shifters, “Talagang nakakababa yun ng momentum pag alam mo na pinaghirapan mo yun tapos biglang irereverse call sa kabilang team. Nakaka down na morale”. The bad calls however, taught the Lady Spikers to simply ignore what they cannot control and make sure that in the Finals, they would not give a chance for bad calls to occur again, “nagkakaroon lang naman ng bad calls kapag merong mga hindi sure. Yung magagawa lang namin dun is yung points namin gagawin namin clean talaga. As in pasok, para wala ng mga ganun.” Says Kim Fajardo.

Last Season’s Finals Most Valuable Player, Kim Dy sees both losses to the Ateneo Lady Eagles as an advantage, “we don’t think of the losses we had cause coming into the championship, it’s like a clean slate so pantay kaming dalawa back to zero” says Kim, “mas hungry kasi blessing yung daalwang talo at least it opened our eyes na may kulang pa sa team namin na may kailangan pa kami iadjust”. She also sees the longer break after the schedule of the Finals was adjusted as another advantage for the Lady Spikers as it has given them more time to spend with their graduating captain, Kim Fajardo.

Defend the Crown

“Coming into the finals lahat talaga tinututukan namin. Binabalik balikan namin lahat ng kailangan namin i-adjust, lalo na yung mga nagawa naming mali in the previous rounds” says Dawn when asked about how DLSU is preparing for the Finals. As for Kim Dy, her team just needs to focus more on defense given that Ateneo is the number one attacking team. Captain Kim Fajardo’s approach is quite different as she chooses to enjoy her last few games in the UAAP and simply play her game.

The Lady Spikers also do not feel that their losses will affect their performance in the Finals since for them, the Finals is way different from the elimination rounds. Their motivation and confidence are on a different level now that they are at the cusp of defending their Crown.

In their matchup in the Finals, Majoy Baron feels that defense is what is most important, “hindi mananalo ang isang team kung walang defense and for us, yun talaga yung pinanghahawakan namin. Kaya naman din namin umatake. Mas okay na meron ka defense kaysa puro atake ka lang”.

Going up in the Finals against a team they have not beaten in the elimination rounds is unfamiliar territory for La Salle but with the challenges they have surpassed in the past, one can only hope that this obstacle is one which La Salle can also overcome. The Finals rematch that everyone had hoped for, a battle of the top offense and top defense of the League. One cannot quickly predict the outcome of this Championship but as the old saying goes, offense wins games but DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.

Thank you, Ara

ARA COVER

Exactly two days after her final spike as a member of the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, Ara Galang is back in Taft Avenue, Manila. Already up at five in the morning to jump in the same bus, which takes her team to their games, only this time, it was for a different reason. Ara and the rest of her team were headed somewhere in Quezon City to partake in various TV appearances in recognition of their most recent Championship.

Roots

Hailing from Angeles City, Pampanga, Ara first got involved in Sports when she was a fifth grader, volleyball however, was not her first choice, “dapat basketball talaga ako, pero walang pang girls pero meron naman sports club na volleyball so trinry lang namin ng mga friends ko. Tapos kami na din composition ng varsity namin nun kasi dun din sila kumukuha sa sports club”. Ara then went on to say that as a kid, she did not even think she owned a volleyball ball but remembers that she owned a basketball.

It was through her Angeles University Foundation varsity team where Lady Spikers headcoach, Ramil De Jesus first got a glimpse of Ara, “hindi naman talaga recruit pero nakausap ko siya. Parang third year high school ako nun, pero hindi pa talaga recruit. Siguro yung coaches ko lang naguusap nun, pero hindi naman nila ako agad talaga kinukuha. Na-eye lang”.

Ara admitted that La Salle was not really her first choice as she looked up to the likes of Mary Jean Balse, Venus Bernal, and Angeli Tabaquero of University of Sto. Tomas (UST), “Nung una kasi wala akong plans mag collegiate volleyball pero nagkaroon ng opportunity so pinagisipan ko. Hindi naman ako kinkuha ng UST, La Salle kinukuha ako” says Ara “may iba rin kumukuha pero La Salle yung pinili ko. Kung hindi ako kinuha ng La Salle, mag tatryout ako dapat nun sa UST”.

She then jokingly said that she picked La Salle because she knew the players of the team because DLSU was the team who always went up against UST during those years but then said that she wanted the good education La Salle offers, “Syempre La Salle pinili ko. Unang una sa education. Kahit hindi ko pa iniisip yung maglalaro ako ng volleyball. And kasi alam ko na yung composition ng team na yun kasi yun yung kalaban ng UST e! Feeling ko lahat talaga destined”.

First of many

Ara serve

November 27, 2011. UAAP Season 74’s opening weekend. La Salle vs Adamson, with the score at 6-4 in favor of La Salle, Ara stepped behind the service line for the very first time, jumped, pulled back her right hand, and swung it with just enough power for the ball to make it across the net, but with enough spin for it to suddenly drop. It was an ace. Ara’s first ever point in the UAAP, yet she showed no emotion. Not even a small crack in her lips to indicate a possible smile. “Nasa personality ko narin siguro yung tahimik lang. Ganun talaga ako, pero I think ngayon sa pagtapos ko, feeling ko nabago ko yung mood na ganun. Kasi alam ko na kailangan ko yung may emotion at alam ko yun yung hinihingi ng team”.

In the same year, Ara also brought home two individual awards, Rookie of the Year and Best server, “sobrang nakaka-overwhelm. Kung may cloud nine, cloud 10 yun. Nene days ko pa yun kaya wow, hindi ko maimagine na nagawa ko yun. Siguro dahil sa hardwork na din yun”.

A taste of glory

Ara considers her first ever UAAP Championship as her most memorable moment of her entire UAAP career, “siguro dahil ang sarap sarap sa feeling ng rookie ka tapos champion agad. Kaya kapag tinanong ako kung ano most memorable sa akin, yun talaga naaalala ko agad”.

The year after, Ara was given the Most Valuable Player award together with her former teammate, Abigail Maraño. It is one of the most prestigious individual awards an athlete can receive but Ara simply smiled when reminded of this and said, “siguro nag peak lang talaga ko nung time na yun”.

The Lady Spikers also won the UAAP Championship in Season 75 to complete a three-peat, Ara’s second UAAP Championship.

Rivalry

Ara valdez

UAAP Season 76 was a tough year. It was the year where the Lady Spikers were aiming for their fourth straight Championship. A feat no other volleyball team has accomplished in the Final Four era. DLSU swept the elimination rounds to gain a thrice-to-beat advantage come the Finals but succumbed to the Ateneo Lady Eagles in four games.

It was during this year and the next where some eyes started to focus on the rivalry between Ara and Ateneo Lady Eagle, Alyssa Valdez. Not only due to the graduation of former captain Aby Maraño and Ateneo’s “Fab Five” (Ho, Cainglet, Gervacio, Nacachi, Ferrer), but simply because both Ara and Alyssa started to become the leaders of their respective teams not only when it comes to scoring but in all aspects.

Ara however, does not have much to say about this so-called rivalry with Alyssa, “hindi ko alam. Wala akong maisip. Para sakin hindi ko siya masaydong naiisip kahit madaming tumitingin sa amin as ganun (rivals). Hindi kasi ako tumitingin ng isa isa lang. Yung mindset ko buong team”.

When it comes to her team’s rivalry with the Lady Eagles, Ara admits that there is added motivation every time they play against Ateneo, “labanan din yun ng pride and ng puso. Kumbaga sabi nga wala na dun yung skills e. Yung kung papaano ka nalang maglalaro, kung gaano mo kagusto, yun nalang yung labanan. Hindi na yung kung sino mas magaling sa ganito, patibayan nalang”.

Worst fear realized

Every single supporter of the Lady Spikers will forever remember UAAP Season 77 for one thing; Ara Galang’s Season-ending injury.

It was game two of DLSU’s Final Four matchup against National University. Unfamiliar territory would be an understatement. The Lady Spikers had their backs against the wall and Ara as the team captain, wanted to lead her team to victory. La Salle was already ahead two sets to one, and leading 22-20 in the fourth set. Just three points away and Ara will have her shot to get back at Ateneo for beating her team the prior year. Last three points.

Ara injury

It was a long rally and as ara went up to hit the ball, her supporters already up on their feet anticipating Ara to finish that rally with one of her famous emphatic spikes. She got the point, her 25th of the match. People went into frenzy. Then all of a sudden, all eyes focused on Ara. She was on the floor clutching her left knee writhing in pain. It was as if the air from the Arena was sucked out and everyone was simply holding his or her breath waiting for La Salle’s captain to get back up. Instead, a stretcher was brought in and Ara was lifted away from the court, back in the locker room. La Salle went on to win the match and earn a seat in the Finals. No one wearing green however, could completely celebrate the victory.

“Nung na-injure ako kasi parang masakit lang kasi naghanda ako for one year and medyo one step closer na ko sa goal namin tapos isang iglap lang, wala na. Wala na ko magagawa”. Narrates Ara “Motivation nalang mabibigay ko sa teammates ko nun kasi wala na akong magagawa inside the court. Sinasabi ko nalang sakanila pag may nakikita akong dapat ayusin. Puro salita nalang”.

Looking back at what could have been had she not been injured and had played in the Finals, Ara believes that although she is not sure if they would’ve won the Championship, she was certain that things would not be the same, “hindi ko rin masasabi pero isa lang ang sure dun, may magbabago dun. Hindi ko din sasabihin na mananalo kami. Kahit wala ako may tiwala ako na kaya nila (teammates) pero hindi lang enough. Pero ginawa nila best nila”.

Getting back up after a season-ending injury is not easy. It requires ample time and the changes in the UAAP calendar indeed helped fulfill Ara’s desire to play for La Salle this Season, “after ng injury actually parang agad inisip ko kung aabot ako pero nag move yung calendar, so yun naging advantage sakin yun. Nakabuti sakin yun kasi humaba yung time ng recovery ko”.

Ara recovered completely before UAAP Season 78 started. Her eyes were set on her comeback and another shot at a Championship.

Redemption

Ara after win

Back in the Finals once more. One last shot at a Championship. One more, one last, for the Green and White. Of course, she did not disappoint.

“Ito yung pinaka masarap na Championship, kasi yung first two championships namin, hindi naman sa madali pero ngayon kasi madaming ups and downs. Minsan magdoudoubt ka pero hindi kasi parang aangat parin tiwala mo sa team. Sabi rin ni coach, mas masarap mag champion dahil sa pinagdaanan namin. Sa lahat ng sacrifices, lahat ng trials and challenges na dumaan sa team”.

Ara scored a total of 31 total points in the three games of the Finals, not a bad number at all but for Ara, she did not reach the form she wished to achieve for this Season, “honestly hindi ko na abot yung peak for me, pero kasi tinitingnan ko yung bigger picture syempre hindi ko iniiisip para sa sarili ko lang. Basta alam ko sa sarili ko na nakaka contribute ako at nakakatulong ako kahit papano sa team” says Ara “and nakuha naman namin yung goal namin sa team. For me sobra sobrang nalagpasan ko pa yung ine-aim ko kasi nakuha namin yung goal”.

In the post-game interview, Coach Ramil said that the win is for the seniors of the team but most especially for Ara. She has not watched the replay of the game and was not aware of what her coach said. When told about this, Ara paused for a while and asked “talaga? Sinabi niya yun?”. She then got a bit teary-eyed, “Ngayon ko lang nalaman, sobrang natouch tuloy ako”. She said “Kasi bawat isa naman samin may iba iba kaming pinaghuhugatan pero may common denominator din kami, pare-pareho yung gusto namin. Pare-pareho naman kaming nahirapan, nag tetrain din sila. Yung iba lang yung paghihirap ko sa therapy and strengthening pero for me, equal lang sa aming lahat. Para saming lahat talaga yun”.

Through the eyes of the crowd

FAN1

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Through the eyes of the league

Aby1

Boom

coach1

Next up

“Kianna (Dy)” was Ara’s quick response as to who she feels will fill the void she will leave in the team, “sa nangyari this season nagpakita talaga si kianna pero naniniwala ako na lahat kaya mag step up. Dadarating yung time sa kanila. Sa ngayon si kianna pero alam ko may iba pang aangat”.

As of the moment, Ara still has no concrete plans for the future. She is still undecided if she will go right back to playing volleyall, “pinagiisipan ko pa if maglalaro na ako kaagad, pero if may opportunity naman pwede naman pagisipan. Kasi may isa pa akong term sa acads so gusto ko muna i-prioritize yun, mag focus sa last term ko para at least maka graduate na ko para mas madami na akong pwede gawin”

Staying involved with the Lady Spikers is something that Ara is also considering, “kung mabibigyan ako ng opportunity, kung aalukin ako, pwede ko naman pagisipan lalo na kung sila naman kasama ko. Matagal ko sila nakasama and kilala ko sila so mas okay yun. Parang may advantage agad sa akin yun”.

Looking back

After five years, Ara deems her team and routine as what she will miss most about playing in the UAAP, “Overall yung teammates ko pinaka mamimiss ko. Yung buong team, yung coaches mamimis ko yung preparation. Training syempre mahaba yan. Hindi naman yan maglalaro ka lang sa Season, syempre buong year yan. Yung buong five years ko tinrain ko, so daily routine ko mamimiss ko”.

Ara happy

When Ara looks back at her journey and what inspired her to become the player she is today, her team, family, and friends are all part of the list but she gives emphasis on her supporters, “yung supporters na laging nandyan kahit na hindi ako naglalaro, kahit injured ako parang nandyan parin sila lagi. Syempre parang sino ba mawawalan ng gana kung ang daming sumpsuporta sayo tapos ikaw hahayaan mo nalang? Parang pag nakikita ko na madaming naniniwala sakin dun ako nagkatiwala sa sarili ko”.

Asked how she wants to be remembered, Ara says, “yung hindi nagigive up. Yung kahit ano mangyari, makakabangon, kahit anong instances”.

 Note: Special thanks to Flavius Dulce and the DLSU Sports photographers for the photos

Green Paddler Ian Lariba: First Filipino Olympian for Table Tennis

YANYAN

UAAP Season 78 marked Ian “Yanyan” Lariba’s last playing year in the UAAP where she finished her career without a single loss. A flawless record is by no means, an easy feat. For a lot, this may seem like a good way to hang the jersey but not for Yanyan. She has set her eyes on an even bigger prize, the Olympics.

Making the improbable a reality

Getting a chance to play in the Olympics doesn’t always boil down to just talent; opportunity is one other factor that is always considered. As Yan narrates “At first we weren’t really sure if we can join the qualifiers because of some constraints in approval and budget in the NSA office, however our coaches and president encouraged us and told us to give it a chance but they then said that they won’t be able to approve the budget. So what we did, we gathered our connections in the table tennis community and our personal connections for fundraising that’s why I was able to join”.

Funding was not the only hurdle Yanyan had to overcome, as the time frame for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers is the same as the Finals week of DLSU, “Our coach really encouraged me to give it a try, saying I have the potential to qualify. She told me that there is a big possibility that I would be able to qualify cause there are 11 slots allotted for the qualifiers so I decided to go”.

LARIBA

Asian Olympic Qualifiers

The Qualifiers has two stages. The first stage is basically a knockout round where the five winners per region will already qualify and those who will lose will play in the second stage, which is the general stage. The players in this stage will be given a chance to qualify for the 6th to 11th slots.

Yanyan lost in her first match in stage one, “It was not really a good start. I lost against Thailand 0-4. First day palang talo na ako so we entered the second stage.” Says Yanyan “in the second stage I won against Qatar and then in the semifinals, ito yung pinaka crucial kasi in our group, whoever looses there would not have a chance anymore to go to Rio kaya sobrang crucial, I went up against Iran”. Yanyan won the match, which boosted her confidence as she went on to face the four-time Olympian from Thailand in the next match.

“Yung opponent ko many times na nag Southeast Asian Games Champion so on my part I had nothing to lose. I was the underdog”. Yanyan unfortunately lost the match but the outcome of the game was much more than what she expected. The match was as close as it could get. A seven-setter. “I did not expect it to be that close. That I could survive seven sets na close fight. Kasi napapanood ko na siya at nakalaban ko na dati. Natalo niya ko before 0-3. As in bugbog talaga, highest score ko yata is six. Pero that moment, I told myself that I just want to enjoy my game and just get it one point at a time. So sabi ko saktong pacing lang”, adds Yanyan “Nung deciding set, alam ko na yung laro niya pero ako yung nauuna nagkakamali. alam mo yung part na gusto mo na manalo pero hindi tumutugma yung galaw mo sa mind mo. Dapat laging magkasabay mind and body talaga”. After the loss, she did not let it get into her head knowing she has one more chance to make it. “Yung losses ko parang wake up call sakin yun. I think it helped me”.

lariba 2

She then faced Indonesia in an all-or-nothing game, “nung last game sinabi ko talaga sa sarili ko na ito na yung last chance ko so I just had to let everything flow. Hindi na ko nagisip ng kung ano ano. I just emptied my mind. I was just in the zone,” exclaims the Lady Paddler. “nung last point na natulala talaga ako. The whole game it was just me and the ball and the coach, pero nung moment na yun, narinig ko na lahat ng cheer. Magaan yung game for me. I was enjoying it”.

Preparing for Rio

“Now? Magpapa-massage muna ako!” jokes Yanyan when asked how she will prepare for the Olympics, “according to our coach it would be more of a mixture of classic and contemporary techniques. She said last week of April we will be starting na. Sabi niya more of strengthening and weight lifting and strategies din muna. Doon kasi longer yung rallies so yung consistency din”.

“I have to overcome that feeling na underdog ako. I need to boost my morale and self confidence going to the Olympics. Kailangan ko ihanda yung sarili ko emotionally and mentally that I can be at par with them already. Preparation nga is key to self confidence so I really have to prepare and more on mental strengthening”.

yanyanyan

Yanyan gets inspiration from her family, friends, and mentors. She gives a chunk of the credit to why she made it to the Olympics to the people who always believed in her, “the people who really trusted all throughout. Yung mga nag sponsor and nag encourage talaga. And siguro yung coach ko. si coach Kwon Mi Sook, kasi yung perspective kasi niya is from an athlete who also dreamt of joining the Olympics. That doesn’t mean that I forgot my other coaches already pero nagtaon lang na si coach Mi Sook yung mas nag nurture nun”.

The 2016 Rio Olympics will be from August 5 to August 21 where Ian Lariba, the first ever Filipino Olympian for Table Tennis, will be taking on the best Table Tennis players in the world.

 

 

SHE IS DEFINITELY BACK! Ara Galang leads DLSU past FEU

 

araaaaAfter suffering ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligaments) tears on her knee, Ara Galang for the first in months, suited up for La Salle and led her squad to a straight sets victory over the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, 29-27, 25-23, 25-20.

DLSU started the game slow and trailed FEU for most of the first set but found their groove just in time to complete their comeback and bag the first frame. The Lady Spikers then continued their strong showing in the next two sets, leaning on powerful attacks from middle attackers Majoy Baron and Mika Reyes but when it came to closing out the sets, it was still Ara Galang who gave DLSU the clutch points.

The returning former Most Valuable Player, Ara Galang led the Lady Spikers with 10 points all of which came from attacks. However, more than just the points, it was the mere presence of Ara Galang that sure made the difference for her squad.

Mika Reyes, who was still nursing an ankle sprain, scored a team-high 13 points while Carol Cerveza and Majoy Baron added 10 and eight points respectively. On the other hand, Toni Basas led the Lady Tamaraws in scoring with 13 points.

For their next game, the DLSU Lady Spikers will battle it out with the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons on Saturday, February 6, 2pm at PhilSports Arena

 

Kim Fajardo: new Season, new hope

kim fajardooo

After back-to-back runner up finishes for the past two UAAP Seasons, veteran setter Kim Fajardo now takes on the task of leading the De La Salle University Lady Spikers to reclaiming the Collegiate Crown they once held for three consecutive years and eight times overall.

New role

“Nung una kasi parang ayaw ko. Ayaw ko yung title”. says Kim about being named the new captain. She however, eventually accepted the challenge and now intends to simply continue what she has been doing all these years, “Yung role ko naman sa team talaga is parang ako yung commander. So ngayon lang nagka title lang pero ganun parin. Mas may pressure lang pero kakayanin ko naman”.

When asked why she thinks coach Ramil De Jesus chose her to become the new captain of her team, Kim humbly replied that she does not know but said that this was not the first time that her coach gave her this role, “hindi ko alam. Nagulat nalang din ako na ako na yung may line sa jersey. Pero kasi nung PNG (Philippine National Games) and previous leagues namin ako na yung captain pero hindi ko naman ineexpect na pati pala sa UAAP ako na din. Hindi ko talaga alam kung bakit ako”.

Kim’s focus for this coming Season is to basically do her job well as a setter as she sees this as the main key for her to be able to fulfill her role as a captain successfully. She also intends to focus on not just the skills but also the attitude inside the court, “yung magawa ko ng maayos yung trabaho ko siguro enough na yun para ma-lead ko yung team ko. Hindi lang basta skills dapat pero pati yung kung paano sila ihahandle, kung paano sila kakausapin, kung paano magiging vocal sakanila at kung paano tatanggapin yung responsibility”.

Beach volleyball success

Last year, Kim Fajardo alongside fellow graduating player Cyd Demecillo (third player: Ernestine Tiamzon) bagged the UAAP Season 78 Beach Volleyball Championship; the first one in La Salle’s history. For Kim Fajardo, their win is important to help inspire the rest of her team to play well during the indoor tournament, “pinilit talaga namin makuha yung Championship para makakuha kami ng kumpyansa para sa indoor. Pinilit namin makuha para at least yung mga younger players may pagkuhanan sila ng lakas ng loob at para mas pumukpok pa sila”. Kim’s efforts in the outdoor tournament was well recognized as she took home the Most Valuable Player award.

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No way but up

Back-to-back heartbreaking losses against rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles is not something that is easy to shrug off but Kim Fajardo has always had a positive outlook, “syempre nag end yung Season ng hindi namin na-accomplish yung goal namin, which is yung mabawi yung Championship, pero siguro this year naman nakapag prepare kami ng maayos para mabawi yung Championship”.

This Season, the DLSU Lady Spikers have six players who are already on their last playing year, namely, Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Mika Esperanza, Carol Cerveza, and Kim fajardo. “Every year naman ginagawa namin yung best namin pero this year, madaming last playing year na kaya mas makikita na yung fire, yung eagerness na mabawi namin yung titile,” says Kim “yun talaga yung nag pupush samin na maglaro ng maayos”.

 

As for her team’s chances of winning the Championship this year, Kim feels that they have prepared well and that they have gained enough confidence, “This year may kumpyansa kami. Senior ako, after winning sa Beach Volleyball na feel ulit yung pagiging Champion. Bumalik ulit yung feeling. Syempre two years wala yun, mahirap din.” Says the multi-awarded setter “Gusto ko maging maayos yung exit namin. Gusto ko maging memorable. Maging masaya. Gusto namin maalala ng mga tao na natapos kami ng maayos”.

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Road to redemption

Kim Fajardo will step on the UAAP court for the first time as the captain of her squad on Wendesday, February 3, 4pm as the DLSU Lady Spikers take on last year’s fourth placers, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws at the PhilSports Arena.

 

 

 

 

UAAP Season 78: First Semester General Championship Standings

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De La Salle University finished the first semester of the UAAP at second place in the rankings with a total of 153 points behind University of Santo Tomas, which garnered 155 points.

Here is a quick breakdown of DLSU’s performance for every event in the first half of the UAAP Season:

Basketball

Twice-to-beat. Teams work hard in the elimination rounds to have this advantage come the Final Four. Twice-in-a-row. The Lady Archers failed to capitalize on that advantage and failed to make it to the Finals.

Who would have thought that it is possible for lightning to strike the same place twice? Last season’s shocking loss in the Final Four was once again experienced by the DLSU Lady Archers in another painful defeat, this time at the hands of rivals, Ateneo Lady Eagles.

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Finishing third, the Lady Archers earned a total of 10 points for DLSU. This Season also marked the end of the UAAP careers of Ria Pineda, team captain Alyanna Ong, and Ara Abaca, who is one of the most decorated (five individual awards) players to ever play for La Salle.

As for the men’s team, even after much talk during the offseason, losing big man Arnold Van Opstal, the ineligibility of prized recruit Ben Mbala, the injury of Joshua Torralba and starting guard Kib Montalbo, the Green Archers still entered the season with high hopes for another impressive run; they, however, encountered hurdles too high for them to handle throughout the Season.

DLSU finished the first round of eliminations at 2nd place with a 4-3 win-loss card, wins came in, including a huge victory against rivals, Ateneo Blue Eagles and the boys in Green and White looked like a team which could potentially make it all the way but the Green Archers ended up losing five of their last seven games and missed the Final Four by the skin of their teeth.

The Green Archers finished the Season at fifth place to give La Salle six General Championship points.

Individual awards:

Rookie of the Year – Joshua Andrei A. Caracut

Mythical Five Selection – Jeron Alvin U. Teng

Mythical Five Selection – Aracelie E. Abaca

Badminton

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Repeat. The Green Shuttlers once again had a bridesmaid finish in this year’s badminton tournament. DLSU had a strong showing for this Season, but couldn’t overcome the undefeated National University Bulldogs and finished second once again to give DLSU 12 points.

The Lady Shuttlers on the other hand, improved one spot from their fourth place outing last year to gain a podium finish this year. The Lady Shuttlers fought hard during the elimination rounds to garner a twice-to-beat advantage come the Final Four. They however, fell victim to Ateneo’s wrath and ended up losing twice in a row to finish third overall, giving DLSU 10 points.

Swimming

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As promised by team captain Vince Raymundo before the start of the Season, the Green and Lady Tankers indeed gave it their all and got the job done. They finished the season at 2nd and 3rd places respectively to give DLSU 12 and 10 points.

Medalists:

Arian Neil A. Puyo Men Rookie of the Year
Individual Gold 200m Backstroke
Individual Silver 100m Backstroke
Individual Silver 50m Backstroke
Individual Silver 200m Butterfly
Individual Bronze 200m Medley
Individual Bronze 400m Medley
Sabrina Ingrid C. Ilustre Women Individual Gold 200m Breastroke
Individual Silver 100m Breastroke
Individual Silver 200m Butterfly
Individual Bronze 100m Freestyle
Catherine C. Bondad Women Individual Silver 50m Backstroke
Individual Bronze 200m Backstroke
Individual Bronze 100m Backstroke
Team Silver 400m Medley Relay
Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Leon Red L. Silvestre Men Team Gold 200m Freestyle Relay
Individual Silver 100m Butterfly
Individual Silver 50m Freestyle
Individual Silver 50m Butterfly
Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Team Bronze 400m Freestyle Relay
Troy Jondan S. Espiritu Men Team Gold 200m Freestyle Relay
Team Silver 800m Freestyle Relay
Team Bronze 400m Medley Relay
Team Bronze 400m Freestyle Relay
Alfonso Jose L. Bautista Men Team Gold 200m Freestyle Relay
Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Individual Bronze 50m Freestyle
Juan Miguel A. Narciso Men Team Gold 200m Freestyle Relay
Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Ambrose Raymund P. Agustin Men Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Team Bronze 400m Medley Relay
John Edward M. Velecina Men Team Silver 800m Freestyle Relay
Team Bronze 400m Freestyle Relay
Magali Christane B. Echauz Women Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Sarah Bernadette T. Castañeda Women Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Jia Jenise K. De Guzman Women Team Silver 200m Medley Relay
Mariah Noelle M. Panganiban Women Team Silver 400m Medley Relay
Mariel Andrea A. Carandang Women Team Silver 400m Medley Relay
Marie Glycel G. So Women Team Silver 400m Medley Relay
Sage Franz Eduard D. Yabut Men Team Silver 800m Freestyle Relay
Benjie Gregory A. Narciso Men Team Silver 800m Freestyle Relay
Jose Maria D. Santos Men Team Bronze 400m Medley Relay
Baron Joaquin T. Ong Men Team Bronze 400m Medley Relay
Jose Mari Luis V. Ereñeta Men Team Bronze 400m Freestyle Relay

Beach Volleyball

In the women’s division, the Lady Spikers finally earned their first ever Beach Volleyball crown. The road they took to get there was not the most ideal, the duo of Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo (third player: Ernestine Tiamzon), dropped the two of their first three games of their season but that did not hamper their spirits as they went on to win their next five games, including a do-or-die game against defending champion University of Santo Tomas. They then beat rivals, Ateneo Lady Eagles in the Final Four, and the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in the Finals to give DLSU 15 General Championship points. Kim Fajardo was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

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On the other hand, the DLSU Green Spikers had another tough outing as they finished the tournament at 7th place, giving La Salle just two points.

Taekwondo

One up. One down. For this Season, the Green and Lady Jins finished the Tournament in third place of their specific divisions, both with 4-2 Win-Loss records.

GC taek

The Green Jins improved one place from last season’s fourth place finish to once again gain a spot on the podium while the Lady Jins dropped from a runner-up finish last year to 3rd place this year.

Bright side for the Green Jins is that they were the only team to hand a loss to the eventual champions, University of Santo Tomas and a bonus Rookie of the Year award for Green Jin Arsenal.

The double third place finishes gave DLSU 10 points per division.

The Poomsae team led by Rinna Babanto and Raphael Mella also finished at third place to give DLSU an additional 10 General Championship points.

Judo

judo

The Green Judokas finished this UAAP Season in third place with a total of 19 points, only one point above fourth place finishers, University of the Philippines while the Lady Judokas unfortunately missed the podium once again and finished the Tournament in fifth place with a total of six points.

The good showing of the Judokas gave La Salle 16 big points to DLSU’s General Championship count.

Table Tennis

Save the best for last. The Green and Lady Paddlers did not disappoint. For the second straight year, they won the Championships in both divisions.

The Lady Paddlers, led by Most Valuable Player Ian Lariba, finished the Season unscathed. They were undefeated during the elimination rounds to give them a thrice-to-beat advantage in the Finals where they swept Far Eastern University, two games to none to gain their second straight crown.

GC TABLE TENNIS 2

The Green Paddlers on the other hand, had more bumps during the Season. They lost some sets, dropped some games, but what is important is how they bounced back after every obstacle that came their way to come out on top and likewise earn the Championship.

From the double Championships in Table Tennis, DLSU earned the maximum of 15 points per division.

The first semester was filled with ups and downs, Championships and heartbreaking exits, but through it all, the University remained as one La Salle. Now that the second half of the UAAP Season is about to begin, it is time once again to pull back those arrows, aim high, and shoot for that elusive General Championship.

 

Semifinals preview: DLSU Lady Archers vs ADMU Lady Eagles

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The Lady Archers look to avoid the same fate they suffered in UAAP Season 77 as they are exactly in the same spot as they were last year after finishing the elimination rounds in second place giving them a twice-to-beat advantage in the Stepladder Semis.

Although FEU is the team, which gave La Salle most of their heartbreaks in the women’s division in recent years, there is no denying that an Ateneo-La Salle matchup in the Semis is still a rivalry series to look forward to.

Head-to-head matchup 

In their previous two meetings this Season, DLSU swept Ateneo two games to none. Both games however, were tightly contested.

In their first meeting, the Lady Archers barely escaped the Lady Eagles, winning by only one point after leading by a sizable margin almost the entire game. Luckily, Ateneo committed crucial turnovers and failed to hit their shots down the stretch to give La Salle a 44-43 victory despite losing their huge lead in the fourth quarter.

Round two was a different story as both teams kept the game close with Ateneo leading most of the way. La Salle mounted a comeback in the second half to bag a slim 63-58 win thanks to Ara Abaca’s 10 points in the final period.

Both games saw Ateneo stalwart Danica Jose lead her team with numbers well above her average. Jose had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks in their first round meeting and performed even better in their next game scoring 23 big points while grabbing 17 boards for Ateneo. Indeed, one of the main keys to beating Ateneo is to limit Danica Jose.

Star comparison

ABACA JOSE

Two of the most formidable bigs in this UAAP season, La Salle’s Ara Abaca and Ateneo’s Danica Jose look to lead theirs teams to the Finals. Both Abaca and Jose are part of this Season’s Mythical Five.

Team comparison

lady archers vs lady eagles

Team Preparations

“We have one mindset right now which is to beat Ateneo. They’re a strong team and they’re going to go all out plus they have momentum coming in to the semis, so we have to keep our composure and play with a higher intensity both on offense and defense” says Team Captain Alyanna Ong. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing, just better and more fluid with a higher intensity”.

“Right now we are doing the usual scouting and physical preparations but I think that we also need mental and emotional preparations especially right now in the semi finals,” adds Alyanna. “Coach Cholo keeps reminding us to remember what we felt last year, and that we don’t want to feel the same hurt again.”

Get it done

The clash between rivals La Salle and Ateneo will happen on Wednesday, 10 am at the Mall of Asia Arena. A win by the Lady Archers will give them the last ticket to the Finals to face the sill unbeaten National University Lady Bulldogs.

Note: Camille Claro, who suffered an ankle sprain in their last game against the Lady Bulldogs, although not 100%, will be available to play tomorrow.

Ian Lariba: A winner’s legacy

YANYAN

Having a perfect season in the UAAP is a feat on its own, but a perfect record for an entire UAAP career is an accomplishment only a handful of athletes can brag about. One of those athletes is De La Salle University Lady Paddler, Ian “Yanyan” Lariba.

Humble beginnings

Ian learned to play Table Tennis when she was in grade three, “it was one summer and my parents wanted me to try something new,” says Ian, “at first it was badminton but maliit pa ko nun, hindi ko abot yung net so table tennis nalang cause abot ko yung table”.

From that point on, Ian never looked back. Just a year after she learned the sport, she started playing competitively in provincial tournaments and eventually, National competitions. “Nakatulong din kasi na yung school ko nun active sa pagsali sa competitions. Tapos sa provinces kasi dati sikat yung local tournaments, so sumsali ako kaya tuloy tuloy na din,” Ian adds.

Coming to La Salle for college was a decision Ian was happy to make. She has always wanted to don the Green and White. “La Salle was my first choice. Six years ago, La Salle was already attractive to me”, Ian exclaims, “of course nag weigh din ako ng options ko like UP (University of the Philippines) and Ateneo, pero in the end La Salle talaga yung pinaka gusto ko”.

Tradition of winning

In the five years that Ian played in the UAAP, she has won a massive five individual awards. In her first year, she won the UAAP Season 74 Rookie of the Year award and for Yanyan it was more than overwhelming, “Hindi ko inexpect na mananalo ako kasi ang dami namin rookies nun tapos ang daming nag eexcel. Kaya nung nanalo ako natuwa talaga ako na yung effort ko and ng team ko were recognized”.

yanyan4

Ian followed up her rookie success with her first Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and her first taste of the Championship in the subsequent year, “Nung nag MVP ako, bonus nalang talaga yun kasi mas na-appreciate ko yung first championship of my career”.

An MVP trophy in just her second playing year is a huge achievement but Ian did not let it get into her head, “sinasabi nila na second year pa lang ako MVP na agad. Pero sinasabi ko sa kanila na hindi lang naman dahil sakin yun. Kasi sa Table Tennis hindi ka naman pwede mag MVP pag hindi kayo champion at hindi naman kami magchachampion kung hindi dahil sa buong team ko. Isang point lang din naman yung nabibigay ko and the rest teammates ko na”. Ian humbly adds.

During her third UAAP Season, Ian felt an added pressure but not because of her huge success the previous year, but because of the responsibility she was given when she was appointed as the co-captain of her team, “yung third year ko kasi it was more of knowing my new role in the team. Before kasi I was just following my seniors so yung added pressure nung time na yun is because I was finding ways on how to motivate not just myself but my whole team”. Her third playing year however, was the year where Ian experienced the biggest setback of her UAAP career.

After sweeping the UAAP Season 76 elimination rounds, Lariba and the rest of the DLSU Lady Paddlers gained an automatic seat in the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. They faced the University of the Philippines for the championship and unfortunately, the Lady Paddlers squandered their huge advantage and succumbed to the Lady Maroons.

“This is one of the biggest heartbreaks of my entire career,” says the Cagayan De Oro native, “pero ito din yung year na madami akong natutunan at ito yung year na mas tumatag ako. At first mahirap siya tanggapin kasi na-sweep namin yung eliminations tapos sa finals pa kami natalo, tapos sweep pa. May mga times nun na magigising ako bigla tapos maiiyak nalang ako kasi hindi ko talaga alam kung ano nagyari sa amin nun, pero narealize ko din naman na lahat naman ng nangyayari may purpose. Siguro to make us appreciate all our victories more”. Lariba and her teammates eventually chose to move on since they knew that they could not dwell on the tough loss for too long, as they would need to prepare for the next tournament.

The following Season, Lariba made true her promise to bounce back. She not only led her team to the UAAP Championship but she also won her second Most Valuable Player award for Table Tennis and won the elusive UAAP Athlete of the Year recognition. The perfect bounce back.

yanyan3

The perfect exit

Entering her last UAAP Season, Ian had not dropped a single game. Keeping her flawless record though, was not something that Ian focused on, “naniniwala kasi ako sa jinx kaya ayaw ko talaga isipin yun. Ang mindset ko nun is to just take it one game at a time” says Ian. “I didn’t want to be too forward-looking din cause based sa mga experiences ko before sa past UAAP Seasons, madami pa talaga pwede mangyari; madami pang plot twists”.

Ian gives credit to her coaches and mentors for always reminding her not to think about her record but to focus on every game, every ball instead. She feels that the main key to her success is her mindset, “I always enter the games thinking like I’m the underdog, but I play with the heart of a champion”.

After her last playing year, Ian achieved a feat only a rare few has successfully earned before. An Undefeated Record. A Flawless slate after five playing years.

Such a high level of gameplay for five years is difficult to maintain. What motivated Ian is her will to continue improving, “Lagi ko iniisip na every year yung opponents ko magiimprove so dapat ako din. I remember sir Nong (Calanog) shared before to always empty my cup so that I can learn more because if I don’t empty my cup there will be no room for something new.” says Ian. “I always think that as an athlete there’s always room for improvement.”

Hanging her jersey

For someone who has so much accomplishments, it is indeed admirable that her favorite moment of her entire career is whenever she is on the stands, cheering her teammates on, “tahimik lang ako pag ako yung naglalaro pero pag nasa bench na ako, sumisigaw talaga ako kahit maubusan na ako ng boses para ma-cheer ko yung teammates ko”.

As for her advice for those aspiring to become just like her, Ian believes that it is humility that is most important, “Humility in everything you do. Always be humble enough to be coachable because if you’re not you won’t improve. And of course, never forget to be grateful to the Lord who gave you everything”.

With all the accomplishments under her belt, Ian Lariba is undeniably one of La Salle’s most decorated athletes, but even with all the awards, Ian wants to simply be remembered as the athlete who had an impact in the lives of others, someone who gave others an inspiration to also find their purpose in the team.

Lariba’s efforts followed those of Lady Tennister Ma. Regina Santiago’s similar unbeaten five-year UAAP (S73-77) career. However, Ian extends her dominance in the national scene as she ranks number one in the Philippine women’s table tennis team for several years now.

yanyan2

DLSU Lady Spikers crowned UAAP Season 78 Beach Volleyball Champions

 

kimkim

De La Salle Univeristy’s tandem of Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo outplayed the duo of Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza in game two of the Finals, 21-16, 25-23 to capture the first ever UAAP Beach Volleyball Championship for DLSU.

Starting the season at 0-2 was unfamiliar territory for the Lady Spikers but instead of losing hope, Kim Fajardo used that slow start to fuel the rest of their campaign, “nung naging 0-2 kami sinabi ko kaagad na hindi pwede to kasi La Salle tayo. Kilala tayo sa puso. Kilala tayo na malakas kumapit.” Says Kim “Kaya yung pinagdaanan namin sa season kinapitan namin lahat. Kumapit lang kami kahit malapit na matalo. Kapit lang “.

The Lady Spikers then went on to win their last five games of the elimination round including a make-or-break game against the defending champions, University of Santo Tomas (UST) to finish in a triple tie for second place with Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and Adamson University (AdU). AdU was relegated to fourth place via the quotient system while DLSU faced ADMU in a virtual best-of-three series.

In their playoff game, the Lady Spikers trounced Ateneo in straight sets, 21-16, 21-19. The Lady Eagles bounced back in the next game, beating DLSU 16-21, 22-24 to force a do-or-die game. The third and deciding match was as exciting as it gets as both teams gave it their all in a hard-fought three-set battle. Ateneo won the first set 20-22, pushing La Salle to play even harder with their backs against the wall. The Lady Spikers came out on top after winning the next two sets 21-14, and 16-14 to advance to the best-of-three Finals.

Less than an hour after booking a ticket to the Finals, the Lady Spikers stepped in the sand court once again to face the top-seeded Lady Tamaraws for the championship. DLSU drew first blood and won the first game of the Finals in another grueling three-set match, 21-17, 16-21, and 15-12.

In the potential title-clinching game two, Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo showed resilience and heart as they saved three set points in the second set before finally capturing the elusive UAAP Beach Volleyball Championship.

After the win, Most Valuable Player Kim Fajardo couldn’t contain her happiness; all she could say at first was just “sobrang saya”. But she then went on to say that the Championship has a bigger purpose which is to give motivation and confidence to the whole team, “pinilit talaga namin makuha yung Championship para mabigyan din kami ng kompyansa sa indoor. Malapit na din yung Unigames and gusto namin pagkuhanan ng team nang lakas ng loob at confidence yung Championship na nakuha namin”.

In the road to De La Salle Univeristy’s first ever championship in UAAP Beach Volleyball, there were bumps and bruises but it is the HEART and the ANIMO that prevailed.

 

 

 

UAAP midseason report: DLSU Lady Archers

 

cholo

After the first round of the tournament, the DLSU Lady Archers, look as poised as they did last season, ranking second in the standings with a 6-1 win-loss card.

First round numbers

In the past years, the DLSU women’s basketball team has been known to be defensive oriented but for this season, it is their offense that seems to be clicking more.

The Lady Archers are second in the league when it comes to offense, scoring an average of 65.3 points per game while their defense, surprisingly is fourth in the league.

Team Captain Alyanna Ong sees such a change as a result of the composition of their team and how they are playing defense, “some teams score easily on us when they break our press. Maybe that is why we are not on top of defense,” says Alyanna “being a small team I think we need to work on our rebounding some more. But I think that as a result of our pressing defense, we are able to score more since we converted our fast break points more”.

“Also, our offense is very free flowing this year,” adds Alyanna “Everyone touches the ball and does their role so there are definitely more opportunities to score for everyone this year”.

The decline in defensive rating is somewhat expected as the DLSU Lady Archers have a guard-heavy lineup with bigs who are not as tall as the other teams’. They however compensate for their lack of height by converting most of their limited opportunities for second chance points.

The Lady Archers top the league in two defensive categories, turnover points allowed, permitting only 13.7 per game and three-point field goals allowed, limiting their opponents to only 17 made triples the entire first round on 18.9% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively they rank first in taking care of the basketball, averaging 24.4 turnovers a game.

Player on the rise

Last year, guard Khate Castillo played a total of only 109 minutes in 14 games. With still the whole second round to be played, Castillo has already surpassed that number. She has currently played 176.5 minutes; second most used player in the team.

midseason khate2

Castillo is currently leading the league in three pointers made with 18 converted while shooting it at a high percentage of 36.7% making her one of DLSU’s new go-to players.

When told about her stats, Khate did not expect where she ranked and downplayed her performance so far saying she is still far from where she wants to be, “para sa akin medyo nag improve ako pero syempre nagkakamali parin ako. Kailangan ko parin mag adjust. Kahit sinasabi ng mga ibang tao na nag-improve ako, para sa akin gusto ko pa mas higitan yun”.

Khate howerver admitted that she is feeling some pressure, “syempre may konting pressure pero kinakalimutan ko yung pressure para mapakita ko tamang laro sa loob ng court,” says Khate; “yes I’m making a lot of my shots pero hindi lang yun para umangat yung points ko. Gusto ko maipikita yung confidence ko sa game ko and second year ko na din kaya dapat hindi lang stay sa dati. Dapat every game mag improve”.

Stepping up

During the offseason, Camille Claro was pegged to be the one player to fill in the shoes of DLSU’s former superstars. Now that the season is in full swing, Claro is doing exactly that.

claro 3

“Before palang ng start ng season alam ko na yung role ko,” says Claro. “Ngayon na nag start na yung season, mas lalo ko pa nalaman yung role ko. Nakaka pressure pero kailangan ko gawin and ibigay yung 110% best ko for the team and for the school.”

More than the big numbers she is putting up, the maturity of the third year guard is what is most evident during games. From controlling the pace of the game to making the right decisions for her team down the stretch, Camille Claro is indeed stepping up for the Green and White.

On the other hand, five-year veteran Alyanna Ong took on the responsibility of being the team’s leader not just on the court but also off the court, “It is more difficult now that the season has started. While looking out for my performance, I also have to look out for everybody else’s. I have to be a steady force on and off the court,” says Alyanna “but it’s been great. We are all growing as a team, being closer to each other every step of the way”.

Outlook

Even after finishing the first round with only one loss, head coach Cholo Villanueva still feels that there are adjustments that must be made, “there are some mental lapses within the game that we can improve on; some decisions we can learn from”. He also stressed the need for better offensive execution come the second round.

The Taft-based squad’s mentor however, despite the lapses in first round, still feels his team stacks right up in the thick of things, “we are still competitive in a sense that even though we don’t have much experience in our team, the girls believe in the system and applied it throughout the first round”.

midseason coach

For the second round, Coach Cholo is keen on making some tweaks to what they are doing so far, “now we know how teams defend us individually and also as a team,” says the former Green Archer “we are still a long way from our goal so there’s no time to relax for us”.

Having the same record as they did last year, the Lady Archers are looking to avoid the same fate as last year’s squad. Alyanna Ong believes the way to do so is to not overlook any team this time around, “every game in the second round we will adjust based on our games in the second round. We will have different adjustments for every team. We have to beat all the teams again and not to let any of them get back at us. We need to maintain our winning streak”.

The roadblock

Unsurprisingly, the DLSU Lady Archers’ only loss in the first round came in the hands of the unbeaten NU Lady Bulldogs. They have not beaten the Lady Bulldogs since the 2013 UAAP championships.

No matter where you look, the packed NU lineup is indeed the strongest one in the entire league. They have beaten their opponents with an average winning margin of 24 points per game. They also lead the league in most categories such as field goal percentage, perimeter points, points in the paint, fastbreak points, assists, blocks, bench scoring, etc.

Good news however, is that the Lady Bulldogs are not invincible. Numbers wise, DLSU is not far behind. The Lady Archers are second in most of those categories and in addition to that, they are number one in the league in taking care of the basketball.

NU

When DLSU faced NU in the first round, it was their first game of the season. First time playing in a league parading their new coach, new players, and new system while the NU Bulldogs’ veteran core entered the game coming from a morale-boosting win in the FIBA Asia qualifiers with Perlas Pilipinas which is mentored by NU head coach, Pat Aquino. Come second round, it would be a different story.

For Camille Claro, the main key to overcoming the mammoth NU squad is to play as a team, “kailangan lang namin i-lessen yung mga mali nung first game and kailangan lang namin maglaro as a team. Sabi nga ni coach, mananalo kami as a team and matatalo kami, as a team parin”.

Alyanna Ong had a more assertive sentiment saying that even after their loss against NU in the first round, she still believes that they can beat NU as long as they play the right way, “since NU will be our last game (in the second round), we still have time to find a way to beat them. We need to have a better defensive strategy and on offense, we need to keep on hitting the open man and moving the ball”.

“We have to beat NU so there will be a final four because it will be more difficult if we have to go through the stepladder format.” She adds.

Staying on track to redemption

With seven games remaining in the elimination round and six wins already under their belt, the Lady Archers are once again at pace to enter the UAAP Final Four. From that point on, they will be just four wins away to redeeming themselves and taking back that crown to Taft.

The second round of eliminations will start on October 11 at the Blue Eagle Gym with the Lady Archers clashing against the UST Tigresses at 1pm.