BEA De Leon’s decision to play one last season to Ateneo was all worth it.
The graduating team captain ended a four-year title drought and delivered the third overall title of the Lady Eagles, who completed a series comeback over University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” said De Leon after her fitting exit capped by a 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 victory in a winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Finals MVP, who averaged 7.7 points in the best-of-three series, attributed it to Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro for still calling her up despite installing his system to the team when he was tasked to replace Tai Bundit early this year.
“I’m so happy that coach O still called me up because he had a choice not to and he had a choice to replace me,” De Leon said. “He really called me up. I still remembered that day when he did. I’m still thankful for Coach O for still wanting me to be part of the team.”
“Alam mo naman hindi ka makakahindi kay coach O,” she added.
Almadro shared that it took a mutual promise between them to make De Leon play her last playing year.
“Nagusap lang kami ni Bea nagpromise kami sa isa’t isa na, ‘Coach please abot tayo ng Finals,’” the rookie Lady Eagles coach said.
And they fulfilled it.
“Indeed, umabot kami ng Finals and may extra pa siya. Nagchampion pa siya, nag-Finals MVP. It’s really yung hard work niya iba yung binibigay niyang intensity sa team,”he added.
De Leon, a rookie when an Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles completed a golden repeat in 2015, felt all the satisfaction as she accomplished her mission to deliver another championship to Ateneo before she leaves.
“It was really really the best decision I’ve ever made. We’re here and we did it,” De Leon said. “And I couldnt be more grateful for everyone who is part of it.”