Had UST’s EJ Laure and Cherry Rondina play, UP would have paid the price for its lackluster performance.
This was the straight-to-the-point retort of UP head coach Jerry Yee minutes after his wards escaped UST by a hair, 25-19, 13-25, 25-23, 16-35, 15-5, Saturday at the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference.
Despite having a full lineup, the Lady Maroons came into the match sluggish, giving the Tigresses, who played without Laure and Rondina due to the duo’s PSL engagement, an opening to almost complete an upset.
“Definitely, we would have paid the price kung kumpleto sila,” Yee told the press.
“Malakas ang UST. Ganyan pa lang lineup nila, eh pag nakumpleto?” he added. “Of course, talo ka pag ganyan ang laro mo tapos nandyan pa ‘yung dalawang opener nila.”
Continuing her onslaught in the seniors division, high school star Eya Laure once again top scored for UST with 20 points as she punished UP’s defense via her powerful kills.
Retaliating for the UP side are the younger Laure’s U17 teammates, Isa Molde and Justine Dorog, who saved the day for the Diliman crew with a combined 30-point output.
Though they are now atop the rankings with a 3-0 record, Yee, normally a poker-faced mentor, couldn’t help but share his dissatisfaction.
“Hindi magandang game. Kung maganda ‘yun, hindi na aabot ng 5 sets ‘yun,” he said matter-of-factly. “They keep on saying na 2-0 na. ‘Yan naman ang totoo pero you have to be consistent.”
On the Lady Maroons taking the undermanned España squad lightly, he adds: “Kahit na sino pa ‘yang nasa harap mo, kahit high school pa ‘yan o veteran pa ‘yan, you have to be consistent with your game.”
In the end, UP proved to be the more experienced team with skipper Kathy Bersola taking matters into her own hands, turning back the opponents to finish with 12 markers.
Asked why UP has been relatively slow since the start of the off-season, Yee offers a couple of observations.
“Hindi naman tayo natigil sa weights training. Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun. It could be a factor,” he said. “And then, kakatapos lang nila ng enrollment. Sabi nila ang hirap daw pag sa UP.”
Whether these truly affected the Lady Maroons or not, the mentor offers no excuses and vows to go back to the drawing board in preparation for the big matchup against FEU.
“Basta pangit ang laro namin. We have to do better. We have to go to practice again,” he shrugged.
Talking about their highly-anticipated battle against FEU, who defeated them twice in Season 78, Yee closed by saying: “Same lang ‘yan eh. Kung UST o FEU ang nandyan, kung hindi kami maglalaro ng tama, talo kami.” — By Mac Dionisio