Heading into Game 1 of the 13th Shakey’s V-League semifinals, top seed FEU had plans on how to take down Ateneo.
With an intact core and having finally broken a 3-year drought against the Lady Eagles, the Lady Tamaraws were no doubt the favorites to draw first blood Monday at the Philsports Arena.
However, nobody could have prepared for a twist happening minutes before the first buzzer involving FEU star spiker Bernadeth Pons, who, while standing still, heard something snap on her ankle which eventually barred her from seeing action.
The result? FEU found itself on the receiving end of a massive upset, getting swept by Ateneo, 14-25, 26-28, 22-25.
“Hindi namin na-training na wala sa loob si Pons,” FEU skipper Remy Palma told FOX Sports.
“Hindi kami natalo dahil wala siya. Hindi lang kami nakapag-adjust na hindi siya makakalaro. Wala naman sigurong nag-expect na mangyayari ‘yun,” she added.
Aside from the Lady Tamaraws’ paltry 30.16% accuracy in attacking, Pons’s absence also affected the team’s floor defense which only dished 35 excellent digs and 19 excellent receptions compared to Ateneo’s 45 and 23, respectively.
Although the first frame became ended with an 11-point blowout, the succeeding sets were close enough as FEU fought hard for a comeback and fill the void both on offense and defense.
Sadly, says Palma, almost is never enough.
“Almost is never enough. Hindi pa rin naging sapat ang ginawa namin. Talo pa din,” she said shaking her head.
Still looking at the bright side of things, the captain adds: “Ang nangyari ngayon sa amin tini-treat namin as blessing kasi at least ngayon na-experience namin na posibleng mangyari ‘yun so at least magiging ready kami pagdating ng UAAP.”
The battle is far from over, though.
Depending on the findings of Pons’s pending visit to the hospital, the Lady Tamaraws is still capable of saving their campaign and live up to the ‘early favorite’ billing when they lock horns anew with the Lady Eagles on Wednesday.
And while Ateneo is expected to come in with a sky-high morale in Game 2, Palma thinks it’s best for her and her teammates to stop beating themselves up and start pushing back.
“Kung mataas ‘yung confidence nila, mas mataas ‘yung eagerness at willingness namin manalo. Walang dahilan na porke natalo na wala na. Parang tabla pa lang naman eh. Natalo namin sila, natalo nila kami,” she said, putting things in perspective.
“Babawi kami. May Game 2 and Game 3 pa,” asserted Palma. — By Mac Dionisio