PETRON’S stunning loss to Foton in the deciding game of the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix finals was so heartrending for Aby Marano it opened an old wound from the not-so-distant past.
The moment Game Three of the title series was over on Saturday and the Tornadoes were celebrating their championship before a huge crowd at the Astrodome, Marano couldn’t help but feel like it was 2014 all over again during the UAAP women’s volleyball finals - back when La Salle lost to Alyssa Valdez and the Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Like the Blaze Spikers, the Lady Archers were heavily favored to win the title after completing a 14-game sweep of the elimination that earned them a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals.
But the rookie-laden Lady Eagles defied the odds, surviving three do-or-die matches against Adamson and National University (twice) in the stepladder phase before doing the unthinkable when they defeated the Lady Spikers in Games One, Three and Four of the finals.
The Petron loss definitely brought back memories to Marano, the former La Salle skipper.
“Actually iniisip ko yun,” Marano said in between pauses and sobs inside the Petron locker room after initially refusing for a post-game interview.
“Hindi naman masyadong malaki 'yung feeling na ganoon, pero naisip ko lang kanina na ‘S*** parang nangyari na ‘to. Parang déjà vu lang ah.’ Though we’re gunning for a fourth championship noon (for La Salle) noong nangyari ‘yun sa akin.”
Marano was already in tears shortly after the Blaze Spikers lost the match, finding a shoulder to cry on in teammate Rachel Anne Daquis as two of Petron’s dreaded triple threat try to comfort each other inside the court.
Her wall crumbled again while being interviewed at the Petron dressing room.
“Sobrang sakit on my side kasi I think ibinigay ko pa rin ang best ko,” said the 23-year-old Marano. “Sobrang sakit sa team ko, pero we give credit sa Foton kasi they really trained very hard to beat us.”
“Nagtrabaho rin sila and this day is for them. We accept ‘yung mga flaws namin. It’s a learning experience pa rin,” she added. “Pero alam n’yo naman ako kahit anong laban nandoon talaga ang passion ko sa paglalaro. Napaka-emotional ko.”
"Sobrang sakit pa rin.”
Marano tried to ease the pain by praying and talking to God moments after the loss.
“Na parang nangyari na naman sa akin (matalo sa championship). Pero inisip ko na lang hanggang kanina na, ‘Lord ganito ba ka-grabe ang challenge na ibibigay mo sa akin. Na ipaparamdam Mo sa akin (ulit) para maging better athlete pa ako?” she shared.
Still, Marano kept her head up since she knew God has a better plan for her and Petron.
“Parang sabi ko lang kanina sa Kanya na ‘siguro kaya ipinaramdam Mo ulit sa akin kung ano ‘yung naramdaman ko sa La Salle para magpursige pa ako na galingan ko pa’. Tsina-challenge ko pa ang sarili ko ngayon,” she said.
“Inaamin ko na naramdaman ko ulit ‘yung pain (ng talo ng La Salle). ‘Yung sobrang iniisip ko na, ‘Ano ba ang nangyari?’ ‘Ano ba ang nangyari bakit hindi namin naipanalo?’ Parang ganun,” she added.
“Basta ang daming tumatakbo sa isip ko. Pero siyempre it all boils down to Foton wanting it more than us.”