MANILA, Philippines – The Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws are more motivated than ever, as they brace for a finals rematch with De La Salle University in the UAAP Season 81 tournament on Saturday.
The Lady Spikers swept the Lady Tams in last season's championship series, winning both games in straight sets despite the valiant effort of graduating open spiker Bernadeth Pons. It was La Salle's third consecutive title, extending FEU's championship drought to 10 years.
Pons has already graduated, but several members of last season's team are still around – including middle blocker Celine Domingo who still remembers the pain from the loss in Season 80.
"Siyempre motivated kami, kasi nga last year 'di ba, andoon na kami," said Domingo, currently FEU's second leading scorer with 13.8 points per game. "Ilang games na lang, maabot na namin 'yung goal namin."
"So I think sa darating na game namin ngayon sa La Salle, we'll be more motivated, and mas gugustuhin naming manalo since 'yun nga, na-two straight games nila kami last season," she added.
Domingo was the Best Blocker last year, but she was neutralized by the Lady Spikers in the finals and scored a combined 15 points in two games.
Also looking forward to Saturday's showdown against the defending champions is rookie Lycha Ebon, who leads FEU with 14.3 points per game.
"Itatatak ko po sa isipan ko na tulungan sila ate, para bumawi kasi nga last year natalo sila," said Ebon. "Ngayon, mas gugustuhin po namin manalo, at tutulungan ko po sila."
Both teams enter the match with some momentum. La Salle broke a two-game slide by sweeping University of the East last Saturday, while the Lady Tamaraws outlasted Adamson University in five sets for their third straight victory last Sunday.
The two squads are currently locked in a three-way tie for second place along with University of Santo Tomas, with all three teams toting 4-2 win-loss records.
For FEU coach George Pascua, their upcoming rematch is all about character rather than skill.
"Sa skill halos pare-pareho eh. So 'yung character na lang and 'yung willingness ng bawa't isa. Siguro 'yun na lang ang magpapanalo," said Pascua. "Kasi how many times na silang nagkakalaban?"
"Yung desire mo na gustong manalo, 'yun ang magpapanalo eh. Sa women's kasi walang mahina, puro malalakas. Depende na lang sa character ng team at ng mga players," he stressed.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.