BATANGAS City — Five years seemed to pass just like a blink of an eye for Creamline duo Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado as Tai Bundit, their head coach since college, has to go back home to Thailand.
It was in September 2013, when a strict Thai coach, who barely knew a few English words, arrived in Ateneo to handle the Lady Eagles in their campaign in the UAAP Season 76.
Valdez, who was then in her third year, and Morado, a rookie setter back then, experienced Bundit’s tough love - from their early-morning jogs around the oval, which they need to finish in five minutes, to the Spartan-like training regimen that lasts for three to four hours twice a day.
In their five years together as coach and players, the trio has two championships in the UAAP (Season 76 and 77) and two in the Premier Volleyball League (Reinforced Conference and Open Conference in 2018).
Out of all their shared success, it’s the little things that mattered the most for Valdez, who got teary-eyed when she spoke of her unforgettable experience with Bundit.
“Every time we fight kasi noong college kasi syempre may language barrier so lagi kaming nag-aaway talaga ni coach Tai, in a good way (kasi) baka akala ng mga tao nang-aaway ako, every time I go out of the dorm, every single day, lagi akong may kutsinta (galing) sa kanya,” recalled Valdez.
“Before going to class lagi akong may pagkain na iniiwan niya sa dorm para peace offering niya, para hindi daw ako mapagod, may energy daw ako, so I think isa ‘yun sa mga hindi ko makakalimutan sa kanya,” she added.
For Morado, Bundit’s tough love has made her the player she is today.
She just won her third Best Setter award in the PVL as Creamline swept Ateneo-Motolite in the best-of-three finals series on Saturday at Batangas City Sports Coliseum.
“‘Yung pinakatumatak sa akin kay coach Tai is how high of a standard he has for me,” she said. “Kahit feeling ko I’m playing at my best na as in peak ko na talaga, there is always something na gusto niya i-improve sa akin.”
Hoping to earn the nod of Bundit, Morado always made sure to give her best in every game - win or lose.
“Sobrang nacha-challenge ako sa kanya parati kasi it’s always so hard for me to get praises from coach Tai,” she admitted.
“He taught me so much about volleyball and at the same time hinahayaan niya akong dumiskarte on my own. He believes in me (that’s the most important),” she added.
Bundit is scheduled to fly to Thailand on December 14.