If Ateneo's Lady Eagles are to complete a major surprise in today's Game Three of the Shakey’s V-League finals, they will need another strong performance from Ella De Jesus.
De Jesus has been nothing short of a super-sub in the title series against University of Santo Tomas’ Tigresses, stepping up to fill the gap left by misfiring Fille Cainglet to lead the Lady Eagles to within a win of the First Conference title.
That was none more apparent than in Game Two on Wednesday, where De Jesus bumped Cainglet off the roster on the floor and delivered four vital points in the pivotal fourth set as Ateneo pulled off a 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 28-26 victory.
“Lagi naman ’yan. The most reliable seventh player ko si Ella ever since,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. “’Yan naman ang role niya ngayon.”
De Jesus’ heroics couldn’t have come at a better time for the Lady Eagles as attacker Cainglet was clearly not in top form, finishing with 12 points.
De Jesus played the perfect back-up to Ateneo top-scorer Alyssa Valdez, who had a game-high 31 points while blending perfectly with the super-sub at crunch time.
“Hindi ko alam kung bakit medyo mababa ang laro ni Fille. Hindi siya masyadong nakapatay (kill) noong Game Two,” Gorayeb said.
“So tinatantsa ko lang kung kailan ipapasok si Ella. Dati kasi si Valdez ang kapalitan niya pero dahil maganda linalaro nila, pinasok ko [De Jesus] for Fille.”
To cap a memorable night, lefty De Jesus delivered the game-winner when she smacked a shot off the arms of Mary Jean Balse.