Ateneo has tools to achieve men’s 3-peat, says Oliver Almadro

Ateneo banked on steady performances from its core to breeze past NU, 25-16, 25-20, 25-19, and win its second straight UAAP men’s volleyball championship Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

Three Blue Spikers finished in double figures, with team captain Ysay Marasigan, 3-time MVP Marck Espejo and veteran Josh Villanueva combining for 34 points.

Marasigan copped the Finals MVP plum, but if coach Oliver Almadro would have his way, he would have shared it with setter Ish Polvorosa.

“Kung ako papapiliin, ang Finals MVP ko dalawa, kay Ish Polvorosa at tsaka kay Ysay Marasigan. Ish did very well talaga buong season at deserve niya maging Best Setter. Tinulungan talaga ni Ish na lahat ng players mag-shine,” the coach said.

As the Katipunan spikers basked in the glory of beating the Bulldogs for the second straight year in the finals, he was unable to hold his tears back.

Almadro, who led NU before moving to Ateneo, said the show of emotion was about finally overcoming the numerous hurdles his team has had to face on and off the court.

“Naging emotional talaga ako kanina kasi yung hirap and yung pagod namin. Hindi alam ng iba kung ano yung hirap na pinagdadaanan namin sa Ateneo. We have to practice and they have to study,” he said.

The road, however, doesn’t end for the champions, as Almadro revealed they will be representing the Philippines in the ASEAN University Games in Singapore this June.

Fortunately for the Blue Spikers, the coach said they will get a little rest before plunging into international action.

“Buong taon kami nagrabaho. It’s about time na magpahinga muna kami,” he said, while adding he has the tools to achieve a 3-peat last achieved by the UST men’s team, who actually won 4 straight titles.

“I can say that I have the materials to make a title run. Yung program ng Ateneo is very very good. Tutuloy lang namin yung ginagawa namin. Nandito na kami sa taas, alam na namin kung paano siya ide-defend ulit.” — By Arylle Magtalas