UAAP: Coach De Jesus pays tribute to embattled La Salle captain Cheng

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 06 2019 01:00 AM | Updated as of May 06 2019 08:06 AM

UAAP: Coach De Jesus pays tribute to embattled La Salle captain Cheng 1
De La Salle captain Desiree Cheng (seen in this file photo) had 10 points in a season-ending loss to UST. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- Desiree Cheng has received plenty of criticism from UAAP fans for her perceived shortcomings on the court, as well as her antics during games -- criticism that only grew louder after De La Salle University lost in the Final 4 of Season 81.

It was a bitter end for Cheng and the Lady Spikers, as they saw their streak of 10 consecutive finals appearances come to an end at the hands of University of Santo Tomas (UST). Moreover, their bid for a fourth consecutive title was foiled, with them not even making it to the championship series.

Instead, it is UST that will make their first finals appearance since Season 73.

Cheng opted to keep mum after scoring 10 points in their five-set defeat to UST in the Final 4 on Sunday, only breaking her silence on Twitter. 

But La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus had nothing but words of gratitude for Cheng, who took over the mantle of captain for the Lady Spikers this year and fulfilled her responsibilities as much as she can.

"Para sa akin kasi ginawa naman niya 'yung sa side niya, kung ano 'yung dapat sa team sa abot ng kaya niya," said de Jesus.

Being La Salle's team captain is no easy task, as de Jesus has always asked much from his leaders. The Lady Spikers have always taken their cues from their captain, as was the case with Aby Maraño, Kim Fajardo, and Majoy Baron in recent years.

Cheng had her own style of leadership, said de Jesus, but she also faced a unique challenge -- she had teammates who were still learning the La Salle system, along with teammates who were taking on big roles for the first time in their UAAP careers.

"Bawat team captain, may kanya-kanyang idea kung paano mo iha-handle 'yung team. 'Yung leadership, paano mo i-impliment sa kasama mo. Paano mo sila mapapagalaw, kanya-kanya 'yun," de Jesus explained.

"Pero kasi sila Lourdes (Clemente), 'yung mga rookies, mga bago 'yan. Siyempre, para sumunod ka doon sa sistema na gusto mo, kailangan matagal ka na doon na nasa team para maka-adjust ka sa sistema," he added.

"Bago si Clemente, bago sila (Jolina) dela Cruz. So medyo mahirap pa."

De Jesus is just grateful that Cheng accepted the responsibilities in the first place.

"Siguro, kung sinasabi mo sa akin kung satisfied ako o hindi sa pagiging team captain ni Des, sa akin very thankful ako sa kanya kasi tinapos niya 'yung playing years niya," said the coach.

"Halos nag-decide na siya na hindi na siya maglalaro eh. Siguro, kung hindi naglaro 'yun, hindi kami umabot ng Top Four," he admitted.

Cheng ended her career with two championships, and was the Finals MVP when La Salle won the title in Season 79. She was also the Best Server in Season 80 when La Salle annexed their third straight title.

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