‘I FEEL like I won also.’
That was Alyssa Valdez talking after her former team, Bali Pure, dealt her current club, Customs, an emphatic defeat in their mid-week showdown in the Shakey's V-League Reinforced Conference face-off at the PhilSports Arena.
Valdez, coming off a record 39-point performance in Customs' win over Laoag, was held to 16 this time by longtime teammates at Ateneo who, with the help of coach Tai Bundit, correctly anticipated the three-time UAAP MVP's every move.
But there was no sign of bitterness in Valdez after the match as former teammates Charo Soriano, Denden Lazaro, Mae Tajima, Jem Ferrer and Amy Ahomiro gathered around her at the end of the one-hour, 25-minute blowout.
“I feel like I won also kasi teammates ko naman sila,” said Valdez giggling.
“Nakakatawa nga (ang feeling kalaban sila),” she added. “During trainings naman we do counter attacks, minsan naman nakakalaban namin ng isa’t isa pero not in a way na league talaga.”
[See Bali Pure deals Customs, former star Valdez sound beating in V-League]
The 23-year-old admitted it was easy to predict her moves with Bundit, her former coach at Ateneo, calling the shots for Bali Pure.
“Alam nila kung kailan ako magda-drop ball and si Coach Tai alam din niya kasi siya ‘yung tipong magsa-shout sa akin (kung anong gagawin),” revealed Valdez.
“Nakakatawa in a way pero, wala, laro eh. Kailangan mong maging professional at the end of the day,” she added.
Valdez said she also had to control herself from laughting everytime she went up against fellow former Lady Eagles Ahomiro, Soriano, Ferrer or Tajima at the net.
“Pinipigilan namin (tumawa),” she said. “Siyempre hindi mo maiiwasan na, ‘O, bakit ka nandito? Bakit ka nandyan sa kabila?’ pero siyempre kailangan focused din eh,” she said.
“Parang ano lang yan, kami ni Kim Fajardo or ni Jaja Santiago na teammates kami before (sa University of Santo Tomas high school). Sabi nga namin kapag nasa magkabilang side kailangan muna naming i-represent ang team namin.”
But Team Besh, as the tight-knit group call themselves, were all smiles after the game.
“I’m just really proud of them na kahit magkakalaban kami, nirerespeto namin ang isa’t isa as volleyball players,” said Valdez.