Ateneo's Julia Morado (L) and Michelle Morente (R) celebrate after scoring a point against La Salle. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Newly crowned UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Valdez admitted the Ateneo Lady Eagles forgot to play as a “happy and united” team and did not live up to their “heart strong” philosophy in their Game 2 loss to De La Salle University.
Three days after their stunning upset victory over the Lady Spikers, Ateneo came back down to earn with a four-set defeat to La Salle that put them on the brink of another loss in the Finals.
“Siguro nakalimutan lang naming maglaro as a happy team, a united team, at nagkulang at nawala din ‘yung ‘heart strong’ namin this game,” said Valdez.
“Heart Strong” has been Ateneo’s rallying cry all throughout this surprising season that saw them reach the Finals even with a rebuilding squad.
After going down two sets to La Salle in Game 2, Ateneo very nearly forced a do-or-die fifth set after tying Set 4, 24-all, off service aces by Valdez. But she also committed a service error, and Ateneo had an attacking error in the next play to hand the win to La Salle.
“Siyempre namain, hindi naman mawawala sa player ‘yun na nasa inyo ‘yung momentum, ikaw na ‘yung kumuha, ikaw pa ‘yung nagpa-(wala),” said Valdez. “At tsaka ikaw ‘yung captain ng team, tapos ikaw ‘yung nag-let down ng team.”
“Siyempre, masakit sa sarili ko,” she admitted. “Pero sinasabi naman ng teammates ko na okay lang, at tsaka ng coaches ko.”
“Sabi nga rin ni (team manager) Sir Tony (Liao), kung hindi di naman ako ng service aces, hindi rin naman magiging 24-all at hindi rin naman mae-extend. So siguro, may purpose naman talaga lahat ng nangyari today,” Valdez added.
Ateneo is now faced with another do-or-die game, as La Salle will clinch the championship if they win on Wednesday.
“Lagi naman kaming do-or-die,” said Valdez. “Since Adamson (in the semi-finals), do-or-die na kami. Mas nakuha na naming ‘yung experience sa do-or-die na matches since Adamson, and twice sa NU.”
“Hopefully, maging better sa next game ang decision-making namin sa court,” she added.
Valdez scored 15 points in Ateneo’s loss, but no other player scored in double-digits for the Lady Eagles.