INSPIRED by the UP men’s basketball team’s amazing return to UAAP Finals after 32 years, former Lady Maroons Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon seek to help BanKo in reaching its first Finals appearance in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference.
After the Fighting Maroons overcame the Adamson Falcons’ twice-to-beat advantage with an 89-87 overtime win in their do-or-die UAAP Season 81 semifinals on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Bersola and Tiamzon, who failed to bring the Lady Maroons to the UAAP finals, moved a win closer from earning a ticket to the championship round in the PVL.
Bersola and Tiamzon provided the clutch hits in the fifth set to avoid a meltdown and take down Ateneo-Motolite with a 25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 19-25, 15-6 win in Game One of the semifinals also on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Prior to the match, both UP-turned-BanKo players watched the UP-Adamson game in the press room until the third quarter as they started to warm up for their game and didn’t witness the crucial part of the do-or-die UAAP game, where Paul Desiderio emerged as the hero.
But the two Lady Maroons, who were part of the school’s last Final Four appearance in UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball, stayed focus in their own game, eventually overcaming a gritty comeback by the Lady Eagles.
“Laro lang talaga. Gusto lang namin maglaro and siyempre manalo talaga not just for ourselves but for the team,” said Tiamzon, who delivered a game-high 25 points.
Bersola, who had 16 points, agreed as she wants to experience playing in the Finals especially for BanKo, which could be in its first championship appearance since joining lasy year.
“Siyempre gusto talaga namin kunin ‘to eh. Di pa kami nakakapasok sa Finals before,” the middle blocker said. “Ito malaking chance namin ngayon, we’re here in this position. Kuha lang ng kuha. Laro lang ng laro hanggang sa makarating doon (sa Finals).”
Bersola and Tiamzon and the rest of the Perlas Spikers have their chance to advance in the Open Conference Finals if they will sweep the Lady Eagles in Game 2 on Saturday.
But for the two former UP stars, they have to brace for a tougher Ateneo-Motolite even it hasn’t won a single game in their three matches against each other this conference — including two straight-set victories in the eliminations.
“Hindi naman namin iniisip na hindi pa kami natatalo ng Ateneo kasi pwedeng-pwede silang bumawi sa amin eh. Kasi mas lalo silang gigil na talunin kami kasi nga di pa nila natatalo kahit sa On Tour,” Tiamzon said. “Kami kailangang prepared lang talaga like yun nga nanalo kami ng two sets then bumawi sila ng another two sets. Wake up call sa amin ang fifth set na, ‘No! it’s not gonna be that way.’”
“We don’t really focus sa kung sino ang nakakalaban namin,” Bersola concluded. “We study what they do but we focus more on what we can do as a team. Di naman kami namimili ng kalaban so laro lang ng laro kung ano ang kaya namin.”