UAAP: Solid, drama-free Adamson eyes Final 4 return

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2020 06:01 AM

UAAP: Solid, drama-free Adamson eyes Final 4 return 1
The Adamson Lady Falcons ruled the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports.

MANILA, Philippines – After five disappointing seasons, the Adamson Lady Falcons believe they are equipped to make a run to the Final 4 of this year's UAAP women's volleyball tournament.

The spikers from San Marcelino have not made the semifinals since Season 76, when a team bannered by Bang Pineda and Pau Soriano outlasted Far Eastern University in a playoff for the fourth seed. They would fall to eventual champions Ateneo de Manila University in the first phase of the stepladder semis.

Since then, the Lady Falcons have sputtered in the lower half of the league standings. The nadir came in Season 79, when they managed just one victory in 14 games – a sweep of University of the East in their final assignment of the tournament.

Season 81 was another topsy-turvy campaign for Adamson. They parted ways with Coach Air Padda after a 0-3 start to the year, and installed Onyok Getigan as interim coach. They finished the season with just two wins, once again languishing at the league's cellar.

A year on, the Lady Falcons are determined to change things.

"Walang emotion ngayon," says Adamson's veteran libero, Thang Ponce, when asked if she is anticipating another "dramatic" season for the Lady Falcons.

"As a team, okay kami," she adds. "Enjoy, hindi watak-watak, kaya maganda siya ngayon."

It is a vastly different team than the one that competed last season. Gone are veterans Joy Dacoron and Eli Soyud, while Bern Flora – their leading scorer last year – is not playing in her final season of eligibility. Another spiker, Chiara Permentilla, is still recovering from a knee injury that she suffered while playing for her club team, Marinerang Pilipina, in the Philippine Superliga.

Still, Ponce is confident that they have what it takes to soar higher this year.

"Ang goal is to make it to the Final 4," said Ponce. "'Yun muna ang unang goal. Ako, as part of the team, naniniwala ako."

The changes aren't limited to the roster. Getigan is out as head coach, and now calling the shots for Adamson is Lerma Giron. Ponce says they have adjusted well to the system she wants them to play.

"As an athlete namin, ikaw mismo, kung 'di ka naman susunod sa system niya, wala ding mangyayari," she points out. "Kailangan mong sundin. Kailangan din, gustuhin mo din na gawin 'yung mga pinapagawa niya."

Moreover, there is an understanding between Giron and the Lady Falcons – something that Ponce is thankful for.

"'Yung coach namin, si Coach Lerma, kaya niyang i-handle lahat ng emotions, spiritually," she says. "'Yung isa-isa sa amin, kaya niyang i-handle. 'Yun ang maganda."

The Lady Falcons served warning of their intentions during the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference last year, when they claimed the championship via a sweep of the UST Golden Tigresses.

Leading the way for the team was incoming sophomore Trisha Genesis, who earned MVP and First Best Open Spiker honors, and rookie setter Louie Romero, who was named Finals MVP.

Ponce expects both players to be major contributors this year, and has no doubt that Romero will live up to the massive hype. A product of King's Montessori, Romero has been playing for Adamson in the PVL since 2017, and more than held her own even against the league's veteran playmakers.

"Alam ko naman si Louie, kilala ko na," said Ponce. "Grabe 'yung pagmamahal niya for Adamson. Parang gusto niya ng mag-college agad, ayaw niya ng grumaduate muna, para lang sa Adamson."

Their preparations were not limited to the PVL and other local tournaments. The Lady Falcons also trained in Thailand during the offseason, with former Ateneo mentor Tai Bundit helping them. Ponce described the training as extremely difficult, but worth it.

"Lahat ng pagod namin, lahat ng sakripisyo namin, alam kong worth it kasi, 'yung goal namin talagang, gusto namin maabot," she said.

It was just another step they had to take to grow even closer as a team, and in the process, reach their goal for the season.

"Sobrang solid namin ngayong UAAP. Kailangan lang namin ng tiwala sa isa't isa para makuha namin 'yung pinaka-goal namin," says Ponce.

Adamson opens its Season 82 campaign against National University on February 16 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).