MARCK Espejo won’t be ending his career as a UAAP champion, but he has definitely made an indelible mark on college volleyball.
He bowed out with five Most Valuable Player awards, three UAAP titles in five championship appearances as well as scoring records that may stand for quite a while.
But where does Espejo rank in the list of the greatest in the league?
Coach Oliver Alamadro rattled off the names of some of the stars of the past few decades, but says he considers Espejo the “GOAT” and believes the Ateneo star’s records would remain unbroken for a while.
“They might debate me but for me they have their time,” said Almadro.
“Si (FEU’s) Herminio Gallo, yun yung kasabayan ko. Panahon nila (La Salle)coach Ramil (de Jesus), sila coach Otie (Camangian) … yung quicker ng FEU, so merong time e. Ito lang kasi yung time nila Marck, na they shone at the right time,” he added.
“Obviously, magiging biased ako but I rank Marck as GOAT. One of the greatest of this time,” said Almadro.
“Yung nagawa niya, I think can never be, sa ngayon, di magagaya. Five straight MVPs. Almost every year, best spiker, may awards.”
For National University head coach Dante Alinsunurin, as much as Espejo’s achievements in college ball, his impact on club competition should also be recognized.
Alinsunurin knows all about Espejo, having coached against the prolific scorer five times and being beaten three straight.
“Alam mo yung batang yun, siya talaga ang nagdala ng volleyball sa men’s division talaga. Mapa-club team, ang laking impluensiya na dumating siya diyan sa volleyball,” Alinsunurin said.
What makes Espejo stand-out, according to Alinsunurin, is his work ethic.
“Talagang masipag. Kita mo na lahat ng ginagawa niya, talagang todo bigay. Every time na naglalaro siya, maraming mga batang na-inspire dahil sa kanya,” Alinsunurin said, adding that Espejo brought out the best in them.
“Sabi nga ng mga player ko, ‘Coach minsan patikimin naman natin si Espejop ng mapait para yung exit niya, mas memorable sa kanya.’ Yun ang kinukuhaan namin talaga.“
But while he will mostly be remembered for his on-court prowess, Alamdro believes that it’s Espejo’s attitude that makes him special.
“Hindi naman sa pagba-brag, cause Marck doesn’t brag. He’s really a humble man. Yun ang gusto ko. Hindi siya nang-taunt, never nang-asar ng kalaban. Ibig sabihin, sa ngayon, God’s gift to Ateneo, to Philippine volleyball,” Alamadro said.
“Para sa akin, LeBron James at Michael Jordan ng Philippine Volleyball.”
The soft-spoken Espejo just shrugged off all the compliments and all the talk of being the greatest.
Even though he’s done so much in his five-year career with the Blue Eagles, Espejo admitted to still not being used to all the attention.
“Personally, parang di ako sanay sa mga ganun. Sa akin, parang nahihiya ako pero sabi nga ni coach, blessing sa akin yun, blessing sa amin sa team na ako yung face ng Philippine volleyball ba yun o men’s volleyball, sa UAAP ah,” Espejo said.
For him, it’s all about finding ways to handle the pressure and the responsibility given to him.
“Siguro pressure sya kasi syempre pag sasabihin na ganun ka, may expectations yung mga tao, kailangan lampasan mo yung expectations nila. Pero siguro challenge lang talaga sa akin yung ganun. Syempre may pressure and siguro nasa akin na lang yun kung paano ko iha-handle.”