MANILA, Philippines – Taking the place of an iconic player is no easy task, but Deanna Wong performed capably in her first start for the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 80.
Wong is now Ateneo's starting setter, taking over the position that had been occupied by the legendary Jia Morado for four seasons. In their first game of Season 80 against Far Eastern University (FEU) on Sunday, Wong finished with four points and 40 excellent sets.
Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, they were unable to open their season with a win as the Lady Tamaraws hacked out a 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 15-9 triumph.
"Sayang lang," said Wong after the game. "We were up na by like five points (in Set 5). But I think it's a lesson to be learned lang talaga. I think we have much to improve on lang."
Even though the Lady Eagles lost in her debut as a starting setter, it was still a job well done for Wong. The third-year player barely saw any time on the court in her first season, then played as a libero in Season 79.
It is only now that she is finally getting to play her natural position.
"It's okay naman, it's nerve-racking talaga. Jitters lang," she admitted. "But then, as the game kept on going, parang nawawala na 'yung isip ko sa labas, at saka nakaka-focus na ako sa pagse-set ng bola sa teammates ko."
Wong got quite a good review from the player she replaced. In a tweet after the game, Morado said: "Thank you for stepping up, Deanna. I am so proud of you."
The young Ateneo setter was just glad to overcome her initial jitters and make Morado proud in her very first game. Wong revealed after the contest that she and Morado had a heart-to-heart talk ahead of the season, where the former Best Setter gave her a few words of advice.
"Sinabi lang niya talaga is confidence lang, and tiwala lang sa sarili. Everything will follow," Wong said.
Ultimately, Wong will always try to follow in Morado's footsteps
"I try my best to set the ball, kahit mis-receive siya," said Wong. "Kung anong kaya ko lang talaga, kung ano maf-follow ko kay Ate Jia, if-follow ko."
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