MANILA, Philippines – Former UAAP Rookie of the Year Jules Samonte came through with a solid showing for Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday, helping the league-leading Lady Eagles fend off National University (NU) in four sets.
Samonte scored 13 points, tied for most in the team along with Kat Tolentino, as the Lady Eagles seized a 25-14, 24-26, 25-17, 25-19 triumph over the Lady Bulldogs.
It was their 10th win in a row after losing their first game of UAAP Season 81, and it clinched a Final 4 spot for the Lady Eagles.
"I just think the teamwork was really evident in the game," said Samonte, who had 10 kills, 2 aces, and a block in the win. "Everyone contributed, and everyone worked hard for it. We prepared well in the past few days."
The 13-points were the most that Samonte had scored in Season 81, after averaging just 7.3 points per game for Ateneo in their first 10 matches. She insisted that there was no special motivation for the match; rather, her performance was the result of a season's worth of improvement and growth.
"Every game has been a learning experience," said Samonte, the Rookie of the Year in Season 79. "I think the past few games have helped me improve also. And also, training, everything happens in training din."
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro was not surprised to see Samonte step up, especially after the Lady Eagles dropped the second set to the young Lady Bulldogs.
"Ever since, si Jules will always be there naman," he noted. "Alam naman natin last year, isa siya sa mga go-to guy ng team, and then ngayon, we just really want to bring back her confidence."
Aside from leading the team in scoring, Samonte also contributed 19 digs, and Almadro expects the third-year spiker to keep improving especially as they reach the closing stretch of the elimination round.
"I know na meron pa siyang ilalabas," Almadro guaranteed.
Ateneo returns to action on Saturday, when they play archrivals De La Salle University at the Araneta Coliseum.
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