“No, I haven’t played against La Salle. Not at all.”
She is already a UAAP champion but surprisingly, sophomore Maddie Madayag is yet to experience how it feels to play in an Ateneo-La Salle game.
The Lady Eagle debuted in the collegiate ranks in Season 77 but rarely got playing time due to the solid performances of veteran Amy Ahomiro and then fellow rookie Bea de Leon.
“Last year, nagchi-cheer lang ako sa team pero hindi naman ako nage-expect na papapasukin ako ni coach Tai (Bundit),” shared Madayag. “‘Yung cheer naman din nakaka-contribute naman din ‘yun sa loob ng court. Iisipin ng mga teammates mo na parang pinu-push mo din sila.”
Fast forward to 2016, Madayag, who has been promoted to a starting position, has become a vital part of the Lady Eagles’ 6-0 run, topping the best servers’ list and figuring in 4th spot of the league’s best blockers.
The former wushu artist revealed that even before she moved to Manila, she is already in awe of the rivalry between the 2 schools.
“Nakakagulat kasi grabe talaga ‘yung audience kapag Ateneo-La Salle. Kahit nung nasa Davao pa ako, pag pinapanood ko sa TV kinikilabutan na ako. Parang oh my!” she exclaimed.
“Back in high school, hindi ko naisip na one day maglalaro ako dun,” added the Davaoeña.
And unless the brilliant Bundit has a surprise in store, Madayag will surely be seeing action Saturday when the ‘finals rematch’ happens at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
On how she feels about facing their archrivals, Madayag says, “Excited ako and nervous at the same time kasi alam naman namin na bibigyan kami ng magandang laro ng La Salle.”
Though she has been more than impressive so far for the defending champions, the atmosphere and the loud crowd could either boost a first-timer’s morale or make one lose focus.
Madayag, however, is not worried.
“As coach Tai said don’t think about anything. Just focus on the game. I won’t let the crowd interrupt my focus,” she assured.
“We’re really preparing for La Salle as in like, before pa, summer pa lang si coach Tai inaaral niya na ‘yung mga spikes nila. We really prepared for it talaga,” she added.
Asked if Ateneo is ready for La Salle’s attempt to stop their 24-game winning streak, the middle blocker humbly said she can only hope for the best.
“La Salle is a really good blocking team so we expect more rallies talaga. Practice talaga kami. Hopefully, the team is ready,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio