‘Inspired’ Ish Polvorosa ready to lead Ateneo to back-to-back

It might have looked easy, but Ish Polvorosa thinks Ateneo’s road to the semifinals wasn’t a walk in the park. 

The defending champions zoomed to a 13-1 record in the double round-robin eliminations, but the veteran setter believes it has actually been harder for them because of several factors.

“It has been tougher for us this season since the pressure to stay at the top and defend the crown has always been there,” he told FOX Sports. “This season required us to wait longer and train harder due to the change of schedule.”

“It’s fulfilling because we can slowly see now the hard work and sacrifices we’ve put together as we reach the latter part of the league,” he added.

The Blue Spikers’ only loss this season has been at the hands of Adamson in the first round, but with Polvorosa and MVP favorite Marck Espejo clicking among others, coach Oliver Almadro and his wards are poised for a back-to-back.

That road continues Saturday when they tackle UP in the Final Four at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Polvorosa said the tournament hasn’t been a battle of skills, but about how the Katipunan spikers have adjusted to the numerous challenges they’ve had to face on and off the court since Season 78 fired off.

“Last season, our main goal was just to make our way back to the Finals, but now, expectations have raised, stakes are higher, and I can say that our team has been doing pretty well with handling these pressures,” he shared.

“This season, it’s more of mental and psychological preparation. How to keep ourselves away from distractions, be motivated and well-driven were the main tasks we had to dwell on. Aside from performing well during trainings and matches since we knew that every team out there would challenge us even harder this season,” he added. “There has been pressure anytime, anywhere. But I love playing under pressure and I gladly accept challenges.”

“I am just so thankful to have the whole team and our coaching staff behind me to help me handle these pressures. What I expect from myself this season is to not let my team down. I have invested much of my time and effort for this and I know we’ll all stick together ‘til the end. Teamwork and unity po talaga.”

Facing a younger team in the Fighting Maroons, Polvorosa is ready to come out big in their battle of Katipunan matchup in the semifinals.

“People could expect a more dynamic and inspired Ish come this latter part of the season. I know everyone in the league wants to win badly, but I think that we badly want the Championship more than anything or anyone else,” he said. “Being the setter of our team has obliged me to be a leader, carrying them through ups and downs would be my biggest role come this final stretch.”

“Constant communication with my teammates would be the key for me to accomplish this role. I am happy with how the team has been performing all season long even though there still are some lapses. I’m just very glad that almost everyone is so committed to not settle for less,” he closed. — By Joyce Palad

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