JAU Umandal is armed with his Philippine men’s volleyball team experience as he seeks to help bring back glory to University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP Season 82 men’s volleyball tournament.
Umandal was behind the shadows of Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas in the team’s silver-medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
But even though he seldom played for the Nationals, Umandal showed his gains from the Japan training camp and international tournament experience as he exploded with 25 points to lead UST’s gallant fight to National University, which survived in four sets last Wednesday.
“Nakatulong naman talaga siya, malaking tulong sa akin. Yung improvements na nadala ko sa loob ng court dito sa season namin,” said the graduating Tiger Spiker.
But he would trade his sensational performance for a win as the Tiger Spikers were determined to win their season debut against the defending champions, bannered by his national team coach Dante Alinsunurin and former teammates Joshua Retamar and Ricky Marcos.
“Para sa akin wala namang katumbas yun, ang mahalaga ang panalo ang team,” said Umandal. “Yung eagerness lang namin na manalo kasi defending champion kaagad ang kalaban namin. Talagang kinapos lang kami sa huli. Pero mahaba pa ang season kaya okay lang.”
Despite the loss, Umandal and the Tiger Spikers are just sticking to the positives that they were able to push the Bulldogs to their limits.
“Marami pa kaming nakitang maganda na mangyayari. Siyempre start pa lang ng UAAP, marami pang pwedeng itama,” Umandal said. “Lalo na nakita na naming kung paano sila maglaro na wala si Bryan (Bagunas) saka si Kim (Malabunga). Marami pang pagbabago na pwedeng mangyari.”
UST seeks to sustain its fine performance and bounce back against opening-day winner Far Eastern University on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.