“It’s nice to be back.”
These are the very words that National University skipper Jaja Santiago quipped as she entered the press room after defeating University of the East in straight set, 26-24, 26-24, 25-20.
The Lady Bulldogs ended the first round on a high note, only losing one game.
But then came the second round where disaster plagued the Sampaloc-based squad. They experienced five-consecutive losses including a straight-set beating against the University of the Philippines.
For Jaja and the entire NU team, however, all of these were just obstacles that need to be forgotten.
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“Lahat kasi kami every game, every talo namin sabi namin na move on tayo kaagad. Siguro may natutunan kami sa mga talong ‘yun,” Santiago said.
The losing streak surely gave the Lady Bulldogs several heartaches. But Jaja took these losses as inspiration to better their teamwork moving forward.
“Sobrang bigat na tipong kada training iniisip namin na kaya namin ‘to pero parang may humihila sa’yo na wala na ‘yan,” she said.
“Pero kailangan naming bumangon at bumawi ulit kasi hindi naman importante ‘yung pagkatalo eh. Ang importante sa amin ay kung paano kami babangon,” Santiago added.
The 6-foot-5 middle attacker also said that she is happy to see that their teamwork is back.
“Siyempre masaya ako na unti unti bumabalik na ‘yung teamwork ng team at ang laro ng isa’t isa,” she said.
She said that while there are skills sets that still need to be polished, she is happy that what they trained for was shown during their win against the Lady Warriors.
“Though may kulang pa pero nakita ko talaga na ang ganda nung laro namin. Kung ano ‘yung tinraining namin kahapon, lumabas talaga,” she said.
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs have eliminated both University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas in the Final Four race. They are also assured of at least a Final Four playoff against Adamson University depending on the outcome of the latter’s next games.
If the Lady Bulldogs win their next game against Far Eastern University, they will enter the Final Four. If they lose and Adamson wins their next two games against De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas, a playoff will happen.
To this, Jaja vowed, to play better against FEU.
“Paghahandaan namin at susubukan naming manalo against FEU,”she said.
Santiago dropped 22 points off 18 attacks, three blocks and an ace to lead the NU’s onslaught against UE.