While La Salle is known for having a wide array of talented spikers who are all capable of breaking into the lineup, the exclusion of Justine Tiu from the Season 78 lineup still came as a big surprise.
With the hands of veterans like Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes and Cyd Demecillo full due to their Philippine Superliga stint, Tiu held fort for the Lady Spikers in the off-season as appointed team captain in a couple of tournaments.
Which is why when the final roster for the collegiate wars came out, many people were puzzled as to why the outside hitter was nowhere to be found.
“I was disappointed kasi I really wanted to help the team na makuha ulit ‘yung crown,” Tiu told FOX Sports when asked about her initial reaction on getting dropped.
“Nafeel ko na kasi nung first year ko mag champion. Nami-miss ko na ‘yun ng sobra,” she added. “Nung Season 76, nanood lang ako from the outside at wala akong nagawa. This year, ‘yung goal ko supposedly was to help the team para ‘yung pride ba namin mabalik.”
The process of elimination heading into the UAAP was nothing but cutthroat for the Taft squad as each and everyone from the team slugged it out for a spot in the 14-woman lineup.
It was specially competitive in the outside hitter position with veteran Cyd Demecillo, returning Ara Galang, and rookies May Luna and Tin Tiamzon eventually getting the nod of head coach Ramil de Jesus.
On maintaining a positive outlook, Tiu says, “Siguro magtitiwala na lang ako sa desisyon ni coach kasi siya naman ‘yung nagpapa-ikot ng mga tao sa team. Kung sino siguro ‘yung nakikita niyang kailangan niya, ‘yun ‘yung nilagay sa lineup.”
“Pero I won’t stop there,” assured the senior. “Next year, papataasin ko pa ‘yung level ng laro ko para makuha ko ‘yung tiwala ni coach tsaka ng teammates ko rin.”
Looking at the bright side of things, Tiu is hoping to use the free time to heal and recover properly from her tendonitis while strengthening her skills in preparation for her return.
Admirably, she says she will use this latest roadblock to propel her to doing better both on and off the court for the team’s 2017 campaign.
“Nakikita ko kasi this year, itong hindi ko pagkaka-lineup, itong setback na ito leverage ko siya,” Tiu shared.
“Compared sa iba, meron akong mas paghuhugutan,” added the one-time UAAP champion. “Ito ‘yung motivation and fire ko for next season na hindi ako na-lineup kaya sa susunod dapat ‘yung better version of myself magawa ko.”
“Honestly, it’s a long way pa until next season. I can take my time and I will set my goals muna,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio