UAAP: La Salle coach De Jesus all praises for UST's Rondina

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2019 11:53 PM

UAAP: La Salle coach De Jesus all praises for UST's Rondina 1
UST captain Sisi Rondina (seen this file photo) was praised by La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus for her leadership. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) captain Sisi Rondina on Sunday joined a select group of players when she led the Golden Tigresses past De La Salle University in the Final 4 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament.

La Salle did enough to limit Rondina on offense, holding her to just 17 points in a five-set thriller. But they could not contain Rondina's fiery leadership, nor her desire to win the game. The Golden Tigresses took their cues from their captain, and several players stepped up for UST.

Chief among them was rookie Eya Laure, who scored a career-best 25 points to power the Tigresses to a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10 triumph. The win propelled UST to to the championship round for the first time in 8 years, and ended La Salle's streak of 10 consecutive finals appearances.

"Sa nilaro ng UST kanina, malayong-malayo doon sa elimination," La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus said after the game. "Karamihan, parang matured na maglaro, kahit 'yung mga rookie nila."

"Makikita mo, very technical. Hindi lang palo-palo," he added. "Gawa na rin siguro ng leadership ni Rondina."

Rondina may not have been scoring at her usual rate -- she converted just 14 of 50 attempts -- but her positive mindset and repeated encouragement kept her teammates going. The graduating open spiker later acknowledged that she was off on offense, but she never lost faith in her team.

"Ako 'yung unang nawawala, pero andoon ako para tulungan ang mga nagpupuntos sa team namin," she said. "Still, I'm so thankful kasi binalik nila ako and ginuide nila ako."

In the process, Rondina joined the ranks of players like Venus Bernal and Monica Aleta of Far Eastern University, UST legends Aiza Maizo and Rhea Dimaculangan, and Ateneo de Manila University icon Alyssa Valdez -- players who have given de Jesus the greatest headaches since he first engineered La Salle's dominance of the UAAP nearly 20 years ago.

De Jesus had already paid Rondina a massive compliment last year, when he compared the diminutive UST spiker to Ateneo's Valdez -- who steered the Lady Eagles past La Salle in the finals of Seasons 76 and 77. 

This time, it was Rondina's leadership that truly impressed de Jesus.

"Iba 'yung leadership ni Sisi lalo sa loob ng court," he said. 

"'Walang mahirap na bola sa akin, basta itaas mo lang.' Ganoon eh. 'Ako na bahala gumawa ng paraan.' Nakikita mo 'yung kagustuhan niya makuha 'yung game kanina," he added. 

"At hindi lang sa game na 'to -- buong season na din, para buhatin 'yung team."

In their Final 4 game, de Jesus saw up close how Rondina had a positive impact on her teammates. 

"'Yung mga rookie nila napapagalaw niya din kasi 'yung leader nila, ganoon mag-laro," he observed. "So tataas 'yung adrenaline, susunod silang lahat sa kung ano gusto ng leader nila. 'Yun ang maganda sa UST."

Rondina vowed that she will keep providing the same energy as UST looks to claim their first championship since Season 72 -- when the team led by Maizo and Dimaculangan foiled La Salle's bid for back-to-back crowns.

"Whatever it takes," she said. "Tatrabahuhin namin, and gagawin namin ang lahat. Ako, sa sarili ko, I will promise na gagawin ko ang lahat makuha lang 'yung pina-pangarap ko, 'yung gusto ko, and 'yung makatikim ako ng gold."

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