MANILA, Philippines -- Their historic performance in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games convinced Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons that focusing on beach volleyball is worth it.
Rondina and Pons, together with the pair of Dzi Gervacio and Dij Rodriguez, won the bronze in the SEA Games last year, the first time that the country made the beach volleyball podium since 2005.
In an appearance on "The Prospects" podcast recently, Rondina said their achievement -- which came in front of their countrymen in Subic -- made them realize that they want to reach even greater heights in their sport.
"Hindi naman sa sinasabing iiwanan namin 'yung indoor, but nagbago po talaga nung nag-bronze medal kami sa SEA Games," Rondina revealed. "Ang sarap sa feeling, lalong-lalo na SEA Games ang pinag-usapan, Pilipinas ang dala."
Rondina and Pons were collegiate rivals, playing for University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University, respectively, but they created a formidable tandem on the sand court. The pair was unbeatable when playing for Petron's beach volleyball team, and they were obvious choices to represent the country in the SEA Games.
For Rondina, a four-time UAAP beach volleyball champion, getting the bronze medal in the SEA Games made all their previous sacrifices worth it.
"Noong pagkasuot ng medal talaga, doon ko na-feel na parang gusto ko pang mas umangat talaga. Gusto namin ni Pons na umangat pa, gusto namin na magka-points as professional beach volleyball dito sa Pilipinas," she also said. "Gusto naming maka-gain pa ng experience."
Rondina noted that she and Pons were able to keep up with the best teams in the region, but faltered down the stretch -- something that she attributed to a lack of high-level experience.
While she and Pons are virtually unbeatable in the Philippines, they have relatively little experience playing beach volleyball internationally. In contrast, some of their opponents have seen action in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
"Kami hanggang dito lang, and hindi kami masyadong nakakalabas kasi nga sa mga commitments din dito sa Pilipinas," she said.
In January, it was announced that the pair had signed with Creamline to focus on beach volleyball.
"Gusto po namin mag-focus talaga sa beach volley, kasi gusto namin talaga, pangarap namin na magka-gold talaga," Rondina said. "Kahit anong liga pa 'yan."
"And siyempre, iba kasi 'yung nadadala 'pag madami ka ng experience, and iba 'yung laro 'pag madami ka ng experience na dala-dala," she added.
Under the Creamline banner, the pair is expected to compete full time in beach volleyball tournaments, including those organized by the Beach Volleyball Republic.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).