‘We lost to a better team.’
So said La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus, who won eight UAAP championships including two three-peats in a successful career but couldn’t find a way past a steamrolling Ateneo side in this year’s finale.
Speaking just moments after the Lady Eagles’ title-clinching 25-23, 26-24, 25-21 victory on Saturday, De Jesus admitted La Salle found it hard to stop an Ateneo side that gathered momentum with victories over Adamson and National University in the stepladder semifinals.
Not even a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals could save the three-time champions, who De Jesus admitted couldn’t match the intensity and confidence of the underdogs.
That the Lady Spikers struggled with their receiving the entire finals didn’t help, he added.
“Di kami maka-receive, di ko rin in-expect na magiging consistent ang service ni (Alyssa) Valdez, ‘yung blocking pa nila organized,” said De Jesus when a handful of scribes caught up with him by climbing aboard the team bus as it rolled out of the Mall of Asia Arena.
“So ayun, mahirap na (humabol) unang-una, ang sipag ng depensa ng kalaban. Tapos di pa kami maka-receive at di na rin naming nasolusyunan, tapos ang taas pa ng kumpiyansa ng Ateneo,” added the multi-titled coach.
But La Salle’s coach for the past 16 years said this is not the end for the Lady Spikers, who will look to bounce back next season.
“Sabi ko sa kanila na hindi pa tapos ang laban,” he said. “May next year pa na paghahandaan para makabawi.”