Tai Bundit weaves magic anew as Ateneo enters V-League playoffs in post-Alyssa Valdez era

You can throw Ateneo’s three game winning streak down the drain, right now.

Because the Lady Eagles themselves won’t be thinking about their sudden rise for long as coach Anusorn “Tai” Bundit prohibits such mentality under his watch.

“We don’t always dwell on the past. We like to look forward and focus on the next game. Pagdating ng training pinapakalimutan na nanalo kami,” Pauline Gaston told FOX Sports after their 13 Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference quarterfinals spot clinching win over the TIP Lady Engineers.

“Pagdating sa training, coach Thai makes sure he prepares us mentally for the next game, bawal yung ganun [na overconfident].”

There were anxious moments in the Lady Eagle’s 4-set revenge as the Lady Engineers drew the first blood grabbing the opening set.

Gaston admitted the Eagles panicked but were able to pull of a come-from-behind whipping.

“Actually hindi naman kami kinabahan, there’s just a moment of panic pero nakakatuwa kasi we were able to recover and our coaches were able to find a way to make the team relax and figure out a way to fix our errors.”

The Eagles pulled the same act to secure a seat in the quarters.

The Alyssa-Valdez-withdrawal syndrome kicked in for the Lady Eagles at the start of the tournament with the relatively young and unknown team struggling to find harmony inside the court.

Their infamous collapse against the San Sebastian Lady Stags almost cost them the tournament, needing to sweep their last two games, the last against the NU Lady Bulldogs, to at least force a playoff spot.

Apparently, the “do not dwell in the past” mentality of the Eagles proved to be as effective as their newfound morale helped them sweep their last two first round games and recently, making sure they enter the next round.

“It’s nice to really show and to prove na lahat naman kaya. To really believe in doing the impossible when there are people who doubt you. Kailangan talaga you need to show what you’re really made of. That’s what our team is able to do, makakahanap talagang paraan kung gusto,” she said.

“We’re trying to recover from [Valdez’s departure] and thankfully nakakahanap kami ng mga plays at nakakahanap kami ng mga technique to really work as a team, siyempre big loss na nawala si Ate Lay pero we have to find a way to fix what we [are missing].”

Looking ahead, the Ateneo’s opponent in the quarters is most likely the same squad the Lady Eagles will face when the UAAP Season 79 starts.

Gaston said the team does not really have an expectation when the collegiate conference started and merely treats this tournament as training ground.

“Just to be ready pero bawal maging anxious at bawal maging excited. Medyo malayo pa rin yung UAAP parang preparations pa rin yung Shakey’s for all the players, parang naga-abang lang kami nagpe-prepare lang kami. After Shakey’s bugbugan,” she pointed out.
“Wala kaming expectations at this point. Just believe in your teammates and believe in your coaches.” – By John Chester Fajardo

Follow this writer on Twitter: @_chesterfajardo

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