GUNNING for a historic four-peat, the National University Pep Squad is looking to top its near flawless performance last year with its most difficult routine yet in the upcoming UAAP Cheerdance Competition.
After scoring 668 points with only six penalties for its Stone Age-inspired number, coach Ghicka Bernabe confidently said fans are in for a treat with the best performance yet of the NU Pep Squad on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Ito na ang pinakamahirap na routine namin,” Bernabe told SPIN.ph. “Kasi this year, ‘di namin binago ang pace na mabilis pero dinagdagan pa namin ang level of difficulty.”
“Kasi kung magse-stay kami sa dati, eh madami na nag-improve na teams so nakahabol na sila sa amin, kaya we have to step up even 10 times,” she added.
The 28-year old mentor admitted that every year, the pressure to win the championship is getting more intense. But the charming dancer, who was part of the perennial title contending Far Eastern University Pep Squad in her college years, said her wards have proven capable of rising to the challenge.
“Siguro every year pabigat nang pabigat ang pressure. (Pero) ito na kasi ang bagay na in-embrace namin sa team from the start na mag-champion ang NU,” she said.
“Not only the NU community but pati ang mga supporters na ‘di taga-NU, may pressure from them and ito ang nag pu-push sa team na mas galingan,” she added. “Kasi dapat naman may pressure din kasi kung hindi, makakampante kami.”
Bernabe shared one other key factor behind her team’s success is their underdog mentality, a feeling they have maintained since three years ago before they got their first title.
“Actually during practice, pina-pafeel namin (coaching staff) sa kanila na talo kami para ma-feel nila na hungry sila,” she said. “Never namin sila tinrain na forever champion sila, mas madami ang chances na we treated them na loser sila.”
“Every time we compete, it feels like the first time, parang hindi kami champion,” she added. “Sabi ko nga back to zero kami, hindi pa tayo champion kasi magco-compete pa lang tayo ngayon.”
In fact, Bernabe and her team immediately got back to work without taking any breaks after winning their third straight title last year as they prepared for the World Cheerleading Championships and the National Cheerdance Competition.
“Dugo’t pawis talaga, wala kaming pahinga. Pero sabi ko nga, ginusto natin ‘to, pangatawanan natin ‘to,” she said. “Nag-set na kami ng standard, dapat pangatawanan na natin ‘to.”
On the other hand, Bernabe considered eight-time champion University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe among the top contenders as well as last year’s fifth placer University of the East, who finished second to them in the NCC.
“UST alam ko maganda ang ipapakita nila and ako, I’m very happy kasi ang ibang teams nag-e-evolve na. And kami, doon kami galing kasi. Masaya ako na may makakapasok na ibang underdog kasi naging inspiration kami na dati lubog kami pero nag-shine,” she said.