BACK from a two-year injury layoff, veteran Angeline Tabaquero feels a bit different wearing an unfamiliar uniform and playing for a program she once considered as rivals.
The former UST team captain has found her way in the roster of the Far Eastern University team competing in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference, suiting up as the Lady Tamaraws’ guest player.
What makes the transition a little bit easier for Tabaquero is the presence of her former Santo Tomas coach, Shaq delos Santos. The two were together at UST for five years.
The partnership produced six V-League championships, the last of which came in 2010 when delos Santos called the shots for the Tigresses for one last time before moving to FEU.
Ironically, it was also the same season when Tabaquero suffered an injury that would sideline him for the next two years.
Now reunited with her former mentor, Tabaquero says she didn’t have a hard time finding her rhythm.
“Walang problema kasi andyan si coach,” she said of delos Santos.
Stepping out of the Tigers’ lair for the first time was a challenge and being seen in a different kit felt very strange.
“Of course I miss wearing the black-gold-black-white jersey and nakakapanibago kasi green (jersey) na ngayon,” said Tabaquero, casting an eye on her No. 2 uniform.
“Pero kahit anong kulay pa yan, yung buong puso ko nasa laro. With me is a Tiger’s fighting spirit,” she added.
“Noong na-injure ako, hindi na ako nakalaro. Kaya noong tinawagan ako ni coach Shaq para maging guest player natuwa ako talaga,” she narrated.
Angeline actually also got an offer from another team but she begged off. Turned out the decision was good enough as the team had to beg off and cancel its participation in the tournament.
And despite being out of the scene for almost two years, fans and supporters remained loyal to Tabaquero.
“Masaya kasi kahit nawala ako ng matagal, di nila ako nakita maglaro, andyan pa rin sila nakasuporta,” said the Communication Arts graduate.
“May iba pa na nagsasabi na, ‘Nanonood na kami ng FEU kasi andyan ka na.’ Nakakatuwa kasi yung suporta di nawawala kahit ibang school na ako naglalaro as guest player,” she added.