MANILA, Philippines – Kiko Gesmundo's cup runneth over after the UAAP Season 80 baseball competition, wherein the De La Salle University star earned several citations, including Most Valuable Player.
And when the curtain officially fell on Season 80 on Wednesday, Gesmundo received yet another trophy: He was named the league's Athlete of the Year for team sports, an honor that the fourth-year player did not expect.
"Hindi naman," said the third baseman, who also earned Best Slugger honors in Season 80. "Ang buong team, nagpe-prepare lang kami para makabawi ang baseball team namin."
"Kasi last year 'di ba, hindi kami umabot sa finals. So ang goal lang namin is, umabot kami sa finals, mag-champion kami. Pero na-short lang kami. Itong mga awards na 'to, bonus lang sa akin," said Gesmundo after the closing ceremony at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Auditorium.
That they fell short of their goal in Season 80 continues to gnaw at Gesmundo. The Green Batters were dominant in the elimination round, going 8-1 to seize the top seed and set up a showdown against Adamson University in the finals.
It was in the championship series where they faltered, with the Soaring Falcons sweeping them in the best-of-3 series. Game 2 was a particularly painful experience: La Salle scored two runs in the first inning and added three more in the third, only to fall apart. Adamson took a 13-6 triumph to seal the title.
It has been two months since their failed run at the title, yet the memories remain so raw that even winning the Athlete of the Year award is of no consolation to Gesmundo.
"Hindi eh. Masakit pa rin eh," Gesmundo answered frankly.
The good news for Gesmundo is that he has one more year to try and fulfill his goal, and the reigning Athlete of the Year is determined to make the most of his final opportunity with La Salle.
"Ginagawa kong motivation 'yun para next year – last year ko – makuha namin 'yung title," he promised.
"Last one na," he added. "Kaya kailangan ibigay na talaga, all out. Wala kaming sinasayang na oras."
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