MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) showed on Wednesday that they cannot be counted out even after Fil-Italian spiker Milena Alessandrini suffered a knee injury that ruled her out for the rest of UAAP Season 81.
The Golden Tigresses pulled off a massive upset when they swept defending champion De La Salle University, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17, in their first game without the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Skipper Sisi Rondina (19 points, 14 receptions) and freshman star Eya Laure (15 points, 17 digs) got their numbers, but also shining for UST was the player slotted into Alessandrini's spot in the starting line-up.
Veteran Dimdim Pacres got the call to start in Alessandrini's place and did not disappoint, as she contributed 8 points and 13 digs to UST's cause.
"Alam namin 'yung kapasidad niya," said UST head coach Kungfu Reyes of Pacres, as he challenged the veteran to sustain her solid performances.
"Medyo may pagka-hesitant lang siya. This time, kailangan kung hindi ka magpupuntos, huwag ka magtapon ng bola," he added. "Pero imposible na hindi pupuntos. So, be mindful din sa atake niya, kasi ang braso niya, dalawang braso ko."
Reyes noted Pacres not only contributed on offense, but she also helped their floor defense as evidenced by her 13 digs.
"Nire-remind ko sa kanya, at para sa lahat, na hindi lang kami pumunta dito para mag-entertain ng mga crowd. Andito kami to compete, to remind her na dapat, tama muna ang ginagawa mo bago mag-enjoy," the coach said of Pacres, who remains one of the most popular players on the UST team despite her limited playing time.
Pacres, for her part, said she simply kept herself ready for the opportunity.
"Ready ako lagi," she vowed.
Moreover, she intends to make the most of her opportunity to show what she is capable of, after a disappointing campaign in Season 80 where Pacres averaged just 6.4 points per game.
"Sabi sa akin ni coach, it's time to redeem myself," said Pacres. "So for me, it's good to be back sa UAAP, kasi last season sobrang pangit ng pinapakita ko."
"Ngayon, ito na 'yung magandang chance para sa akin at para sa team."
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