[Here is Part 13 of our long-running WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) Series]
ABY Maraño is known as a beast of a competitor on the volleyball court, but the star spiker can also be on beast mode off it.
Just ask her boyfriend, San Beda player Robert Bolick.
For most basketball players, inspiration readily comes with one glance at a supportive partner cheering them on from the stands. Well, Maraño is not the typical girlfriend of an athlete, as Bolick has come to know in their years together.
A multi-titled volleyball player going back to her days with the De La Salle Lady Spikers in the UAAP, Maraño never hesitates to speak her mind, even unafraid to point out Bolick’s mistakes on the court.
“Hindi ako ‘yung type ng girlfriend na lagi ko siyang pine-praise na, ‘Ang galing mo.’ Minsan pine-praise ko siya pero ‘yung sarcastic na alam niyang hindi ako impressed,” said Maraño.
For Maraño, though, it’s her way of motivating Bolick to keep improving as a basketball player. In fact, the 24-year-old Maraño said she has been that way ever since they started dating back when Bolick was still playing for La Salle's Green Archers.
Maraño said she only wants the best for his beau. Being an athlete herself, she also knows how to strike a balance between giving him positive encouragement and a little ‘negative motivation.’
“Negative motivation lang. Minsan mag-aaway kami na sasabihin niya wala akong support at kaya ako nandito (maglaro ng basketball) para sa future namin. Sa isip-isip ko lang, tama ‘yan para ma-push pa siya,” she said.
“Kapag masyado naman ako supportive, baka isipin niya na, ‘Ang galling-galing ko naman,’” added the two-time UAAP MVP.
Having a fellow athlete as a motivator is just one of the advantages in their relationship, Maraño said, as they both understand the demands of playing sports at the highest levels.
In turn, Bolick also gives the same treatment to her when it’s Maraño’s turn to be on the volleyball court.
“Parang nagco-coach na kasi, ganun din siya sa game ko na sinasabi niya, 'Hindi maganda ‘yung ginawa ko.' Sabi ko, ‘Ano bang alam mo sa volleyball?’” she said with a smile.
“Kaya nagkakaintindihan kami. Kunwari maaga ang training niya, maaga rin ako natutulog,” added Maraño, currently with PSL team on leave F2 Logistics while being part of the 25-woman Philippine volleyball pool.
Most of the time, when their schedules don’t clash, Maraño is at the stands to support Bolick - an experience that gives her a fresh perspective which she can share to Bolick.
“Meron lang ako nakatabi from La Salle na sabi niya, ipakita niya (Bolick) kung ano ‘yung hind mo napakita sa La Salle. Sabi ko sa kanya, tignan mo kahit ibang team, meron pa rin naniniwala sayo,” said Maraño.
So far, Maraño’s encouragement appears to be paying off.
After an uneventful finals appearance for La Salle in 2013, the 21-year-old Bolick is fresh from his best stint as a college player last year when he helped lead the Red Lions to the NCAA Season 92 championship.
True to her personality, Maraño wasn't shy to dish out advice to her boyfriend in the days leading up to the NCAA Finals.
“Hindi naman kami nag-uusap ng masinsinan about sa finals. Ang perspective ko kasi, kailangan one week before the finals, naka-mindset ka na and the day before the game, hindi na dapat pinaguusapan ‘yung finals para hindi ma-excite,” she said.
“Ang nasabi ko lang sa kanya, ‘Magpakita ka kung ano ‘yung hindi nakikita ng tao sa 'yo. Ipakita mo kasi may mga hindi naniniwala sa 'yo. This is your time.’ Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya, ‘This is your time. Wala ng bukas, make the most out of it na part ka ng first five at nasa championship ka na,” added Maraño.
Bolick continues to blossom as one of the top players of San Beda, and currently struts his wares for Cignal in the PBA D-League.
With the way things are going, Maraño is confident he will be able to land a spot in the PBA soon.
“Nakikita ko na malayo pa ang mararating niya. ‘Yung work ethic niya, hands down ako kasi na-beat pa niya ‘yung work ethic ko nung college ko. Ibang klase siya mag-work out. Malaki na ang improvement niya kaya nakikita ko na malaki ang chance niya na makapag-PBA,” said Maraño.