MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio was among the 21,000-strong crowd who trooped to the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday and got to witness history as the Ateneo Lady Eagles claimed their first-ever UAAP women’s volleyball championship.
Tenorio, a former star point guard for the Ateneo Blue Eagles, said he could not be happier to see another team excel for his alma mater, and to do so in spectacular and inspiring fashion.
“Sobrang saya ko na nandito ako at na-experience koi to. I think this is the first-ever championship, and I’m so happy. Proud Atenean,” said Tenorio. “Ang galing.”
Like most volleyball fans, Tenorio did not expect for the Lady Eagles to win the championship. They were, after all, the underdogs in the finals against the defending champions De La Salle, who also had a seemingly unassailable thrice-to-beat advantage.
“Unexpected. Wala talagang nag-expect, kasi thrice-to-beat (ang La Salle), sobrang hirap talaga,” the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart said.
“Against a championship team, sobrang hirap, pero pinakita nila ‘yung puso nila. Grabe,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio later posted Instagram pictures of the Lady Eagles’ championship celebration, along with a picture of himself and Finals Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez, with the caption: “I must admit Number 1 fan mo ako! Congratulations MVP!”
He was not the only former Blue Eagle to watch the game. Enrico Villanueva was also in attendance and later posted Instagram pictures of his own, where he celebrated with the Lady Eagles and their coach, Tai Bundit.
Another Ateneo legend, Olsen Racela, said the Lady Eagles were “an inspiration to the whole Ateneo community.”
Ateneo had lost to La Salle in the previous two finals, but the third time was the charm as the Lady Eagles overcame a thrice-to-beat disadvantage to win their first ever UAAP title.
In the winner-takes-all showdown on Saturday, the Lady Eagles shockingly swept the Lady Spikers, 25-23, 26-24, and 25-21, to wrap up the title and end La Salle’s three-year reign as champions.