MANILA, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU) skipper Bernadeth Pons may have ended her UAAP career without a women's volleyball championship, but she remains proud of what she has achieved as a Lady Tamaraw.
Pons and the Lady Tamaraws fell short once more on Wednesday when they bowed to De La Salle University in straight sets, 26-24, 25-20, 26-24, in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball finals. The result clinched for La Salle its third straight title and 11th overall.
It was a bittersweet ending for Pons, who finished her career with another triple-double: 17 points, 15 receptions, and 15 digs. The FEU captain could not help but be emotional in the end, but still held her head high upon receiving the silver medal amid a chorus of cheers from the appreciative FEU crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.
"Masaya ako sa ano man 'yung naabot namin this year," Pons said after the game. "Sobrang proud ako this year sa team namin, although hindi namin nakuha 'yung goal namin."
"Hopefully, 'yung experience na ito is a stepping stone sa mga natitira next year to bounce back," she added. "Sobrang proud ako sa mga teammates ko, sa mga coaches, sa lahat kasi lumaban kami hanggang dulo."
Pons may not have achieved her ultimate goal of leading FEU to its 30th women's championship, but she was still the biggest factor for their return to the finals for the first time since Season 71. She may not have won an individual award throughout her UAAP career, but for FEU fans and supporters, she will always be their #MVPons.
That the FEU supporters cared enough to campaign for her MVP candidacy touched the veteran open spiker, who established herself as the most well-rounded player in the UAAP this year.
"Masaya ako, and na-overwhelm ako kasi 'yung mga napapansin nila sa akin, it means na maganda 'yung pinapakita ko. Masaya ako dahil na-appreciate nila 'yung effort ko," she said.
The next step of Pons' career may not take her too far away from Morayta. FEU coach George Pascua announced after the finals that he is looking to bring in Pons as a member of their coaching staff by next season. He is also looking to tap graduating libero Kyla Atienza as a member of the coaching staff for their girls' volleyball team.
"Sa akin, gusto namin ma-involve at ma-feel din nila," said Pascua. "Kasi next year, siyempre ang next target namin, mag-champion."
"Para hindi man sila mag-champion as a player, matikman nila as a coaching staff," he said. "Ibig sabihin part pa rin sila ng team na trinabaho nila, na inumpisahan nila, hindi man as a player pero as a coach."
Pons would not immediately commit to joining the FEU coaching staff, but vowed that she will always be there to help the team
"Hindi ko pa alam," she admitted. "Basta andiyan lang ako, tutulong ako. Pero hindi ko alam kung magiging part ako ng coaching staff. Basta, tutulong ako sa FEU."
Still, to be given that kind of offer by her coach, just moments after ending her UAAP career once again overwhelmed the soft-spoken Pons.
"May tiwala si coach sa amin, para ilagay kami sa coaching staff," said Pons, who led the Lady Tamaraws in scoring in every season that she played. "Sabi ko nga, hindi talaga ako sure kung magko-commit ako, pero tutulong pa ako sa FEU."
"Tutulong ako always, coach," she promised.
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