In a nutshell, UST head coach Kung Fu Reyes is hurt.
This stinging statement came minutes after his Tigresses dug a 27-error deep grave and bowed to NU in their V-League quarterfinal match Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
With star spikers EJ Laure and Sisi Rondina both in Thailand for a training camp, Reyes had to make do with the ones left in the roster later on finding out his chess pieces were just not enough to stop a Jaja Santiago-led Lady Bulldogs.
“Mahirap talaga at masakit sa loob lalo na ‘yung (winning) tradition (nawawala). Talagang aakuin mo na lang lahat dahil nga sa mga nangyari,” he told FOX Sports.
“Wala na. Kahit sinong bunutin ko wala nang nage-effort eh. Kung tanggalin ko kaya ang high school ko diyan, hindi ko alam ano pa mangyayari diyan. Wala nang gustong umako eh,” he added.
In his attempt to soften the blow of missing the services of Laure and Rondina, the mentor tried time and again to shuffle 5 outside hitters but all of them fell short, combining for a measly 8-point output.
Seeing his wards unravel, Reyes barked instructions from the sidelines in between rallies and pushed the Tigresses to stay upbeat during timeouts. In the end, however, his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“May punto na napapagod (ka na),” he shared.
“Somehow, medyo masakit kasi ‘yung dedication na ginagawa mo parang, deserve ko ba ‘yung ganun lang ang gagawin nila?” he added. “Kaya lang, baka hanggang dun lang ang kaya nila. Sa nakikita ko kasi hindi sila hanggang dun lang eh. Ang missing (ay) tapang.”
The younger Laure, Eya, with the help of veteran Ria Meneses, led the Tigresses by example with 15 and 8 markers, respectively, giving NU at least a semblance of a fightback in the second frame.
Though Reyes takes all the blame in UST nearing its first semis exclusion in the league, he clarifies he and his coaching staff have done everything in their power to equip the España crew with the skills that they need.
“Sabi ko nga, at the end of the day, ginawa ko ‘yung trabaho ko. ‘Yun naman ang importante dun. Mas malaking kasalanan naman ‘yun sa amin kung hindi namin naibigay sa kanila ‘yung dapat nilang matutunan,” said Reyes, who also coaches powerhouse club team Philippine Army.
On his girls relapsing anew, he says: “Sa ensayo hindi sila ganyan. Grabe kami magpaluan sa ensayo. ‘Yung pressure, imbes na gawing challenge, ginagawa pang pressure lalo.”
Prior to the competition’s kick off, Reyes was quoted saying he will treat the campaign as an audition stage for his Team B players for the all important 14 slots for Season 79.
And with the way some of his spikers crumbled under pressure, the coach pretty much has a list of who should not make the cut come UAAP.
“Dun na kami maninimbang. Nandyan pa sila Chloe (Cortez). From here, magse-select kami ng mga tao. Ganyan na ginagawa, ila-lineup mo pa ba?” he said matter-of-factly.
“On process pa din ang rebuilding ng team. Mahirap. Masakit sa mata. Masakit sa loob. Masakit sa ulo. May magba-bash pa sa’yo. Pero trabaho ‘yan eh,” he added.
In the end, he says, these spur of the moment emotions remain to be nothing but bursts as he vows to hold on to the team as he approaches his second year of being at the helm.
Taking a step back, he says: “Tiyatiyagain namin ‘yang mga bata. Hindi namin basta-basta bibitawan. Kaya nga kami nandiyan eh. Ilalabas namin ang galing at kung ano meron sila.”
The Tigresses will be facing San Sebastian Wednesday before capping the quarterfinals with a matchup against Ateneo on Monday next week. — By Mac Dionisio