ATENEO coach Oliver Almadro made it a point to note that University of the East is better than what its 3-11 win-loss card suggests.
The first-year Lady Eagles mentor gave a toast to the graduating Lady Warriors, gathering them in a huddle on the heels of his side's 25-20, 27-25, 25-11 victory on Saturday.
"I told them they pushed us forward and they really pushed us," he said, with Ateneo being given a commendable second-set challenge by the also-ran UE. "Of course, hindi na, 'UE lang yan.' UE yan. Nandyan si ganito, ganyan so we have to really push ourselves forward."
Almadro commended the Lady Warriors for the players' individual performances.
"I've been telling my players that we have to respect their players," he said. "(Lai) Bendong is a likely candidate for the Best Setter. Kath Arado is a candidate for Best Digger and Best Receiver. (Judith) Abil is No. 5 sa scoring. Si (Mean) Mendrez is No. 7 sa scoring. So they are in the top spot individually and the coaching staff are doing very well with the team."
Almadro insists UE has what it takes to be in the semifinals.
"Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanila: They're equally as good as FEU, UST, and everyone else. Lahat kami equal. It's just that yung breaks of the game, hindi nila nakuha, but they deserve to also be in the Final Four," he said.
"Kung pwedeng lahat yang eight na yan, may slots sa Final Four eh kung may magic na ganoon kasi they're also deserving."
Maddie Madayag also shared the same sentiments, giving a tight hug to Kath Arado and Judith Abil, who were once her teammates in the regional meets.
"We were teammates before and I told them nice game," she said.
Almadro is just appreciative of how UE brought its A-game to the non-bearing duel against Ateneo, one which he believes prepared his wards well for the Final Four next weekend.
"Na-appreciate ko din si Judith, si Kath, at si Bendong dahil yung ginawa nila sa team nila. We really appreciate it kasi napush nila kami forward," she said.