AS Arellano moved a win away from the NCAA Season 92 women's volleyball championship after repeating over San Sebastian on Friday night, Lady Chiefs coach Obet Javier remained in a somber mood.
While the Lady Chiefs are playing through sore muscles, cramps and fatigue, Javier is carrying a huge emotional burden. He lost his young wife Amy Marie to lung cancer just last week.
Yet Javier strives to keep his mind away from his personal grief each time he's on the sidelines. He wants to be strong, or at least look strong, for the sake of the team.
"Kailangan kong ipakita sa team ko na kailangang matatag eh," he said.
"Pinipilit kong maging matatag sa harapan nila. Siyempre kapag mag-isa ka na lang doon mo na mailalabas ang dapat ilabas."
It hasn't been an easy month for Javier, who, while plotting ways to beat a San Sebastian team that went without a loss in the eliminations, is still waiting for the urn containing her ashes to arrive.
Amy Marie died in Spain where she worked as a care giver.
The grieving coach, however, finds solace from his wards who have vowed to win the championship for their dearly departed 'Tita.'
"Ang unang sinabi sa akin ng mga players sa akin, 'Coach ito 'yung una sa mga motivation namin. Iaalay namin ito kay tita'" he said. "Malaking bagay 'yun para sa akin."
Javier, however, was quick to remind his players not to let anything affect their focus on the goal.
"Sinabi ko sa team ko na hindi dapat pinag-uusapan sa ensayo (ang nangyari sa wife ko). Dapat naka-focus kami sa practice," he said. "'Yung problema sa akin, sa amin (pamilya) na lang 'yun."
Arellano only needs one more win to overcome the Lady Stags' thrice-to-beat edge and reclaim the title the Lady Chiefs last won two years ago.
Winning the championship will make his late wife's dream come true, the coach said.
"'Yung misis ko kahit na sabihin na natin na wala na siya, ang lagi niyang pinapangarap ay 'yung mag-champion ulit kami eh," Javier said.