DAWN Macandili was dwarfed by MVP Shinnabe Risa of champion team Japan, first best outside spiker Kim Yeon Koung of Korea and four-time best setter Nootsara Tomkom of Thailand as she stood at mid-court on Thursday night.
“Nanliliit nga ako eh,” said Macandili smiling.
But the pint-sized Philippine standard-bearer stood 10 feet tall in the eyes of adoring countrymen after being named the second best libero in the just-concluded 19th AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship.
Macandili, no more than five feet tall, gave Philippines its proudest moment at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna after a tournament where the hosts could finish no higher than eighth place against some of the finest teams in Asia.
The La Salle libero, however, said the award was no more than a reminder for her to get even better in her craft.
“Hindi naman natatapos 'yan sa awards eh, gusto ko talaga maglaro and magawa ang passion ko which is volleyball,” said Macandili. “So ang award na 'yan parang reward lang 'yan sa mga players and patuloy lang akong maglalaro para sa team ko and sa Philippines."
Macandili, though, didn't get to where she is now so easily, as she had to prove her worth to the star-studded team while overcoming her own self doubts.
No more than a second-stringer in the libero position, Macandili struggled in her first few games as she herself doubted if she belonged in a tournament of this magnitude.
But the fighter in her eventually came out.
As soon as she overcame those doubts, the diminutive libero hit new heights as she shone in several games with her hustle and gasme-saving plays. Philippine volleyball's 'Ms Everywhere' was all over the place as she soon put a lock on a starting spot.
“Ayaw ko mag-settle,” she said. “Since 'yun nga, pangit ang start ko tapos ganito ang resulta, siguro next time i-feel ko naman na may magagawa pa ako na mas maganda.”
Macandili is once again listed as no more than a reserve for the national team that is set to compete in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia over the next fortnight.
But knowing this player's big, fighting heart, expect her to be front and center in no time.