Last year’s finish: Champion
Key losses: Denden Lazaro, Ella de Jesus, Aerieal Patnongon, Michelle Morente
Key Additions: Paulina Marie Monique Gaston, Jennelle Marie Lo, Ma. Deanna Izabella Wong
BACK-to-back MVP Alyssa Valdez leads Ateneo’s bid for a treble, with some changes in the Lady Eagles’ supporting cast.
Gone are defense specialist Denden Lazaro and Ella de Jesus and Aerieal Patnongon, who have maximized their eligibility, and Michelle Morente due to academic deficiency.
But Valdez believes coaches Tai Bundit and Parley Tupaz have prepared the team well as they try to find the rhythm early with Paulina Marie Monique Gaston from UST, Jennelle Marie Lo of De La Salle Lipa and Ma. Deanna Izabella Wong of University Of San Jose-Recoletos.
“For sure everyone knows naman na if you have good floor defense or defense in general, hindi naman malayo na you really can do anything ’di ba? If you have recieve and defense you can do offense ’di ba?” said Valdez.
“Coach Tai and coach Parley are doing their best sa training para ma-improve namin ang mga flaws namin and mga pagkukulang namin. We’re really want to learn and want to improve pa,” she added.
Eyes will be on Gyzelle Tan as she tries to fill the void left by Lazaro, but Valdez is optimistic their new top libero is up to the task.
“Si Gyzelle naman she’s really open for anything e. She accepts lang the things that sina coach Tai and coach Parley teach her. Naga-adjust din naman lahat. It’s really a different team this coming season,” she said.
The 22-year old Valdez knows a third straight title will not be easy, but she hopes that the team can turn pressure into something positive.
“Pressure naman is always there eh. Manalo, matalo, may pressure ka sa sarili mo, from the coaches, from the people around you,” she said.
“But hopefully we work lang something na i-turn namin ang pressure into something na macha-challenge kami and i-improve pa namin ang skills namin,” she added.
Still with Lady Eagles are Amy Ahomiro, Bea de Leon, Jhoana Maraguinot and Jia Morado.
“Syempre sobrang blessing and nakakataba ng puso naman to be dubbed as team-to-beat, honored rin kami na ganoon ang tingin sa amin ng ibang teams pero for sure sila rin team-to-beat,” said Valdez.
“Sabi nga namin mahaba ang preparation this year,” she added.
“Hopefully mapakita naman namin na team to beat kami but then sa amin gusto namin sa team namin every team counts lang. One game at a time palagi mahirap mag-skip eh.”