All-Filipino UST crew to battle giants in V-League Reinforced tilt

In a bid to end its Final Four drought in the UAAP, UST is taking drastic measures to make sure the Golden Tigresses get ready in time for the Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament in January 2017. 

The Espana squad will be one of the 8 teams plying their trade in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference — a tournament UST will be joining for the first time.

And to force the Tigresses to be at their best from the get-go, the team will be participating without a foreign reinforcement in the import-laced conference.

“Nagtanong muna sai coach Kung Fu dun sa mga officials ng V-League na baka pwedeng sumali kami kahit walang import. Positive naman yung sinagot basta syempre hindi katulad nung lineup ng collegiate conference yung ilalagay namin,” assistant coach Yani Fernandez told FOX Sports PH in an exclusive interview.

READ: Recovering Pam Lastimosa to return as UST captain in Season 79

Fernandez said having an import was not really an option as all expenses will be paid by UST should they opt for one, while local reinforcements were also out of the picture since most of their prospects play in the PSL.

“Yung sa Shakey’s Reinforced, di ba nga kailangan may import e since kung magkakaroon ng import, school ang magbabayad. Malabo na kaagad yun,” he said. “Sa ngayon wala naman din naiisip si coach Kung Fu kasi kung kukuha kami ng mga locals yung mga ina-eye din namin e nasa kabilang liga, so wala din.”

Instead the Golden Tigresses will see the return of EJ Laure, Cherry Rondina, Ria Meneses, Chloe Cortez and comebacking captain Pam Lastimosa in the lineup after the quintet missed the Collegiate Conference.

“Yung mga players namin sa kabilang liga e maglalaro na ngayon sa V-League na 100% na dapat umattend sila sa game,” he added. “Either way na magsabay, dapat i-prioritize yung sa Shakey’s kasi unang una mother team yung nilalaruan. Napagusapan naman namin yun ni coach Kung Fu and decision din ng (UST officials).”

While obviously undermanned against semi-professional teams, Fernandez said the tournament will first serve as a preparation for the future but assured the Golden Tigresses will not be easily bullied.

“Ang habol namin dito is experience na mage-gain ng mga bata,” he said. “Kasi una nga may import advantage yung ibang team. Yun yung hinahanap namin, na magkaroon ng kalaban, maka-experience ng malalakas na team kasi iba yung malalakas na team syempre ikaw yung may matututunan sa kanila,” he said.

“Hindi rin naman kami sasali na hindi rin naman kami prepared. Hindi rin naman namin sinasabi na ok lang kami matalo, hindi rin kami papayag, tiwala naman kami sa mga tao namin.” — By John Chester Fajardo

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