It’s just the 1st round of UAAP Season 78 but for La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus, beating Ateneo will do wonders for his team.
After failing to stop their archrivals’ spotless rampage to the gold and finishing as bridesmaids for the 2nd year in a row in 2015, the Lady Spikers will once again get a chance to avenge their loss and snap the Lady Eagles’ 24-game win streak on Saturday.
Aside from getting a share of the top spot, a win could turn things around for the Taft squad, who, according to de Jesus, suffered from a big blow to their confidence in the past 2 seasons.
“Malaking bagay kung makuha mo ‘yung panalo sa kanila kasi magkakaroon ng tie for 1st place,” he told FOX Sports.
“Malaking bagay din kasi makaka-build ng confidence sa mga bata na ‘Ay, kaya pala natin,’” he added. “Pagka-naumpisahan nang talunin, hindi na alanganin pagdating sa court na naghe-hesitate kahit alam naman na kaya.”
Citing the matchup between Ateneo and Adamson, de Jesus shared it was a perfect example of how mental edge could ruin a good team’s focus and strategy.
“Katulad dun sa laban ng Adamson at Ateneo, may mga oras na dumidikit sila pero bumibitaw din kasi nakatanim na sa isip nila na malakas ‘yung kalaban,” he shared.
This, too, could happen to La Salle in the battle of the titans happening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Losing despite a thrice-to-beat advantage in Season 76 and failing to win even a set in last year’s showdown could crush the confidence of even the strongest of teams.
The multi-titled coach hopes, however, that he has equipped his team with enough motivation to overcome the tough challenge ahead.
“Sinasabi ko sa kanila na kailangan i-motivate ng maayos ang mga bata,” he said. “Every night naman magkakasama kami and sinasabi ko sa kanila na skills-wise parehas naman. ‘Yung condition ng katawan hindi naman tayo nalalayo.”
“Isang taon nilang pinaghandaan. Hindi mo masasbi na hindi ka handa kasi pinag-ensayuhan mo ‘yun,” he added. “Kung ano na lang ‘yung gagawin mo sa loob ng court, ikaw na lang nakakaalam nun. ‘Yung mental toughness mo, dun na lang lalabas ‘yun.”
And though de Jesus wouldn’t go as far as predicting a win in their favor, he assures everyone that the Lady Spikers will come prepared for the big match.
“This year kasi prepared ‘yung team. Unang-una, nabantayan namin ng husto ‘yung conditioning pati skills,” he said. — By Mac Dionisio