“Ah talaga? Sorry hindi ko alam.”
This was La Salle skipper Kim Fajardo’s innocent reaction after being informed that their win against Adamson in Round 2 of Season 78 got them the second seat in the Final Four.
Other athletes may keep tabs on how close they are to the post-season but it is not the case for the Lady Spikers.
On the coaching staff’s deliberate move to steer their attention away from the pressures of making it to the next round, Fajardo says, “Hindi sinasabi sa amin na itong last na panalo Final Four na kami. Ayaw siguro nila na ma-distract kami.”
With a 9-2 record, La Salle is currently on a virtual tie with defending champion Ateneo with both squads ready for a mad dash to finish the elimination round on top.
Breathing a sigh of relief, the captain hopes that the Taft crew’s last 3 outings are a sign of how they will perform in their remaining games.
“‘Yun din naman ang first na goal namin talaga, makapasok sa semis kasi siyempre unti-unti naman ‘yan,” she told FOX Sports. “Iniisip lang namin na sana magtuloy-tuloy kung papaano kami maglaro ngayon kasi parang for me, ‘yung past 3 games namin maayos ‘yung galaw namin. Magaan sa loob eh.”
Though its silver finish in Season 77 could still be considered a success in spite of 2 spikers suffering from massive knee injuries, La Salle’s 2016 campaign is looking to be a complete contrast as the fire in their eyes that seems to be amiss last year is back to the delight of their fans.
Fajardo may be one to deflect recognition that this could be due to her leadership but it is undeniable how her way of getting her teammates in line has done wonders for the squad.
On creating her own style in leading a veteran-laden team like La Salle, Fajardo shares, “Gusto ko malaman kung makakagawa ba, magaan ba siya o mabigat ang teammates ko sa bawat araw. Trabaho ko din kasi ‘yun. Kung hindi okay, kailangan ko kausapin.”
“Napupulsuhan ko before the game kung mabigat o magaan eh. Makikita mo pagpasok pa lang ng court,” added the Batangueña. “Pag warm-up maingay talaga. Pag ayaw magsalita o di naka-smile, mabigat. Minsan kahit pinu-push mo sila, ginagawa naman nila pero pilit.”
Looking at the numbers Fajardo has been tallying so far in setting, serving and even attacking, one could assume that she was meant to be a leader instead of a follower which she has been good at as well in the last 3 years.
Her maturity is highlighted even more by the way she handles her spikers who are not having a good day inside the court.
“Pag off sila, ‘yun ang time para bigyan ko ng kumpyansa. Ayoko naman bulyawan. Kakausapin ko na bawi lang hindi lang as captain kundi as setter kasi sa akin naman manggagaling ‘yung bola,” she said.
And even though there are only 3 games left before the all important semifinals, Fajardo says her team’s sole mindset will be on securing a twice-to-beat advantage.
“Hindi naman basta-basta ang mga kalaban namin,” shared the setter on not looking too far ahead. “Sabi nga ni coach, wag na namin isipin ang kahit ano. Ang isipin lang namin is gawin kung ano dapat namin gawin sa loob ng court and susunod na ‘yung iba.”
“Target na namin ngayon 1 or 2. Sana dun lang kami para may advantage,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio