JERRILI Malabanan is hoping to make the most out of her final playing year by becoming a leader and a complete player for Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws.
She made it clear though that she is not trying to fill Bernadeth Pons’ shoes.
Malabanan, the Filipina-American out of Sunny Hill High School in California, said she is not pressuring herself to make the same impact Pons did for the Lady Tamaraws.
“Obviously, Bernadeth Pons is like an irreplaceable player and instead of thinking that one player has to step up and become her our team has a kind of distributed it and everybody has to step up not just the pressure is on one player,” Malabanan said.
FEU coach George Pascua noted that Pons’ playing position is the same as Malabanan and Heather Guino-o, and he is not putting pressure on them.
“Hindi ko naman sinasabi na pantayan si Pons, Pons is Pons eh,” Pascua said. “Kumbaga, 'yung intensity ng nilalaro ni Pons, kahit papaano, 'wag naman masyadong lumayo. Si Pons kasi pwede sa harap, pwede sa likod. 'Yun ang pinai-improve ko sa position kung saan nawala si Pons, which is si (Heather) Guino-o at saka si Malabanan.”
After two games in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, Malabanan has learned being a leader isn’t easy.
“It’s harder than I thought it was because we’re not used to it,” the 5-foot-10 hitter said. “Before the past few years, I’ve been used to having these seniors that I’m not the one who has to guide the young ones.”
“This year, it’s new for me and (Kyle) Negrito and the other people, we’re still adjusting,” she added.
The PVL is a good exposure stint for the Lady Tamaraws, and they still have more than six months to go before the UAAP Season 81, and Malabanan is confident they will be a much more solid unit by then.
“My personal goal is to step up in everything,” the BS Biology major said. “Not just in hitting because the other previous conferences, I haven’t been really helping the team receiving wise or digging wise so that’s what I’m focusing on this conference ‘cause that’s what we need receiving and digging.”
“I think my performance kinda went down in the UAAP last season but this is my last year so I’m trying to give it my best,” Malabanan concluded.