F2 Logistics import Maria Jose Perez earned the respect of head coach Ramil de Jesus after playing though emotional pain in the championship match against Petron in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The prolific Venezuelan hitter, who eventually led the Cargo Movers to win the title and earned the MVP award, lost her older brother, Daniel, to cancer a day before the winner-take-all match.
De Jesus could only say good words for his reliable reinforcement.
“Sobrang saludo ako, ‘di niya sinasabi sa team, ‘di ko nga alam pano nya nadadala, kasi ‘di umiiyak, ‘di malungkot, ‘di nadala sa performance,” said the veteran mentor, who only learned about the news on Saturday morning.
“Saludo talaga ako sa kanya, ‘di alam ng players, ayaw niyang ipasabi,” he added. “Wala, ‘di siya umiyak sa practice, sabi niya buhos niya laro niya.”
Perez was holding back her emotions when a handful of reporters asked her after the game.
“Yes I was thinking about that (to dedicate the game to him) before because I know that’s the only that we will make my family happy,” said Perez, whose voice cracked in the middle of the interview.
Despite having a difficult situation that she had to deal on her own, Perez did what she had to do.
“I didn’t think about my loss, I know I have a big responsibility with my team so I tried to share with my team and smile and be strong,” she said.
“Because I know we had this opportunity to win this game so I don’t (want) to be sad to my teammates but to bring happiness and just give my best to my team,” she added.
Perez expressed her willingness to return for next year’s Grand Prix but she will still talk to the management.
She will go back to Venezuela to be with her family before she flies to Utah for a commitment.