Helping by not helping.
Having returned from the Davao leg of her skills camp, Alyssa Valdez was seen at the sidelines of Ateneo’s do-or-die battle against TIP for the last V-League quarterfinals seat Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
Though part of the 14-woman roster, Valdez, who powered the Katipunan squad to 2 historic UAAP titles, was not in her jersey anew, sitting out the match and letting her younger teammates handle the Lady Engineers on their own.
You may see the outside hitter smiling at the sidelines but deep down, she admits to hating the feeling of just watching.
“I hate it. As a player, you really just want to help and contribute to the team kahit ano’ng way,” she told FOX Sports.
“I hate it but this is one way of me helping the team para makuha nila ‘yung feeling na sila-sila ‘yung naglalaro,” she added. “We have no choice but to let go and move forward. Let the kids show what they’ve got. I’m just gonna be here, be their Ate and support them no matter what.”
After using up her 5 years of eligibility, Valdez made Ateneo’s stint at the ASEAN University Games held in Singapore her swan song as she vowed to allow the new faces and the returnees to bond and shine on their own heading into Season 79.
Without her, the Lady Eagles have had a shaky start in the tournament, losing 2 consecutive matches against TIP and San Sebastian before stepping on high gear and turning back Perpetual and NU for a 2-2 record.
This led Ateneo to the win-or-go-home matchup against TIP which it won convincingly in 4 sets.
Talking about her former teammates’ slow start, she says: “Everyone naman starts in trying to get used to playing with each other. Nag start sila and if if you’re there, there’s no way but up.”
“They’re getting all the experience to improve and get the confidence that they need. The challenge is to maintain the confidence,” she added.
Aside from the 3-time UAAP MVP, the Lady Eagles are also missing the output of their other outside hitter Jho Maraguinot who is easily their second biggest offensive weapon next to Valdez.
In their stead, newly-appointed skipper Michelle Morente and returnee Ana Gopico have stepped up big time to produce the output that usually comes from the power hitting duo of Valdez and Maraguinot.
Still joining the daily training of Ateneo on weekdays, Valdez observes that the genuine adoration that her teammates have for each other is what has been carrying the team past the gruelling week of having 3 crucial matches in just 8 days.
“Aside from the exposure they get sa Shakey’s V-League, siguro for weeks sila na lang din ang magkakasama as a new team. They’re really bonding with each other inside and outside of the court. It helps the team para mas maganda ‘yung fluidity nila inside the court,” shares the Batangas native.
“I think one thing na nakikita ko sa kanila, they really just love each other that’s why intact sila,” she added.
Asked for an advice for the Lady Eagles before they head to the next round where they will test their mettle against FEU, UP and UST, Valdez says just keep the ‘one game at a time’ mantra.
“You know, dapat dahan-dahan lang. One step at a time. I think that mantra hanggang ngayon nagse-stay pa din. ‘Yang one step at a time na ‘yan pataas ng pataas. Maging consistent lang sila,” she closed. —By Mac Dionisio