DESPITE not making it back to the finals, Far Eastern University coach George Pascua said he is still proud of the how the Lady Tamaraws persevered after losing key players in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
The fourth-seeded Lady Tamaraws failed to replicate their Game One win over the twice-to-beat Lady Eagles, falling 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 14-25 loss in their do-or-die Final Four match on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Although he rued an opportunity that got away, Pascua is still proud of how the team dug in during the course of a season that saw Toni Rose Basas sit out due to a knee injury and rookie Lycha Ebon suffer a knee injury in their first game of the second round.
“Very proud ako sa mga players ko kasi they did well,” he said, looking back on FEU's first season since the departure of star Bernadeth Pons. “Hindi biro yung challenges na pinagdaanan ng team kasi may mga injuries, may mga nawala.
"And yet, until this game lumaban pa rin sila.”
Team captain Jerrili Malabanan was proud to prove the skeptics wrong.
“A lot of people are talking that we weren’t gonna make it to the Final Four,” the graduating team skipper said. “In my opinion, not overachieve, but we achieved more than what we want.”
The FEU coach also feted Malabanan and fellow Heather Guino-o and Kyle Negrito for a job well done this season.
“Umpisa pa lang nagpapa-thank you na ko sa kanila. Team building pa lang na nadiyan sila para sumupport sa team,” Pascua said. “Yung unfinished business last season gusto namin ma-achieve na unfortunately hindi namin na-gain yun. Pero siyempre sobrang proud ako sa kanila bilang ates ng team they did well.”
Pascua now wants the holdovers, including Ebon who is expected to be back to full fitness after three months, to learn from their up-and-down journey this season.
“Sabi ko nga lahat ng nangyayari is lesson learned especially for the coaching staff,” Pascua said. “Siyempre kung sino yung mga nawala na key players ko, siguro yun ang mga challenges na dapat pa naming gawin as a coaching staff.”