WHEN the chips are down, Ateneo has one battle cry: 'Go to Espejo.'
So said Ateneo coach Oliver Almandro and setter Ish Polvorosa, who saw the country's most popular men's volleyball player once again lead the Blue Eagles to the UAAP Finals.
Just days after a record-breaking 55-point performance, Espejo scored 37 points as Ateneo sent twice-to-beat Far Eastern University crashing, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18, to punch a ticket to a fifth successive appearance in the finals.
“Actually game plan namin ni coach Oliver, ang mantra namin the past two games, ‘I live and die with my partner’ and that’s Marck Espejo,” said Polvorosa.
Espejo, however, couldn't have done it without Polvorosa, who set up most of Espejo's 34 successful spikes with his 40 excellent sets, once again highlighting a partnership that fans have labelled as 'IshPejo.'
“Sobrang laki ng tiwala ko kay Marck and every time naman he delivers,” said Polvorosa, who won Best Setter honors in the four years that Espejo was named MVP.
Almandro schoed Polvorosa's words.
“Sabi ko ibigay kay Marck, honest (answer),” said the outspoken mentor. “Sabi ko, ibigay kay Marck. Well, alam naman niya 'yun na kailangan siyempre ina-activate niya 'yung iba, pero when it matters (at) kailangan ko ng points, (give it to Marck).”
With one final title series to play against National University beginning on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum before ending their collegiate careers, Espejo and Polvorosa are bent on going out on a high.
“Papunta sa Finals, kasi 'yung ibang mga starters namin puro bata and kami, si Ish, kami 'yung naka-feel from first year naman, nakapag-finals na, hanggang huli nakapag-finals na,” he said.
“Siguro kailangan lang namin 'yung tamang motivation sa kanila. Basta alam ko, kaya namin ito,” he added.