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    Jolina dela Cruz repays RDJ faith as rookie impresses as starter in debut

    Feb 17, 2019
    PHOTO: dj cubangbang

    DE La Salle’s rookie Jolina dela Cruz turned heads in her UAAP Season 81 debut and delivered the goods for the Lady Spikers in their big win over archrivals Ateneo Lady Eagles.

    Dela Cruz was the biggest surprise of head coach Ramil De Jesus against Ateneo as the starting rookie finished with 11 points in their 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19 victory before a crowd of 17, 166 on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    The recruit from Academia de San Lorenzo in Bulacan proved that she deserved her spot in the starting six as she stepped up in their rivalry game despite the daunting pressure from the hype and roaring crowd in a huge venue.

    “Siyempre po honor po yun sa akin, na sinama po ako ni coach sa starter. Yun po, parang sobrang kailangan po talaga sa lahat ng gagawin mo, confident ka,” the 19-year-old rookie said.

    “Hindi naman madali kalabanin yung Ateneo. Yung mindset po namin na mag-eenjoy kami, maglalaro kami nang maayos, hindi kami prinepressure ng mga ates,” she added.

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    De Jesus, who recruited the rookie from Shakey’s Girls’ League and Palarong Pambansa when she played for Region 3, said that Dela Cruz showed jitters but it’s normal and he’s glad that the young gun overcame it and had a convincing debut.

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    “Well as a rookie, siguro para sa akin nasa sixty percent ang laro kanina. Expected ko na yun kasi bago sa kanya lahat ng nangyayari. Siguro yung dami ng crowd, yung ingay ng crowd,” De Jesus said. “Sabi ko nga kanina after ng second set: 'Jolina, sobrang confused mo na kasi ang likot na ng mata mo.' Ni-remind ko lang siya. 'Kailangan ko lang ng makakatulong sa loob. Kailangan ko ng tulong mo.'“

    “Ganoon talaga pag first game. Siguro sa sunod, hindi na ganoon,” he added.

    Dela Cruz, who campaigned in the 9th ASEAN schools games in Singapore last 2017, admitted that first-game jitters came in but she didn’t let it to take her game away.

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    “Siguro po parang masyado po akong nadala, and nire-remind naman po nila ako na 'Jolina, balik ka, kaya mo yan. Andyan ang mga ate mo, hindi ka nila iiwanan. Ko-cover ka nila kahit anong mangyari,’” she said. “Sila coach po lagi nila akong nire-remind na focus ka, focus, balik ka lang. Once na magkamali ka may ibang way ka na pwede kang gawin.”

    Dela Cruz chose La Salle because of its winning tradition and its education that’s why she won’t let the school down this UAAP in its bid for an unprecedented "four-peat."

    “Siyempre La Salle, home of the champions, na parang sobrang grabe taas na standard nito, kakayanin ko ba ito? Pero po iyon, binigyan ako ni coach Ramil ng chance,” Dela Cruz said.

    “Hindi lang nila ako narecruit na sabihin nila na maglalaro lang ako dito. Una po sinabi sa akin ay mag-aral ako dito, mag-aral – iyon po talaga una na sinabi sa akin, mag-aral ka sa La Salle, hindi ka lang lalaro.”

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    PHOTO: dj cubangbang
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