I am not the weakest link -- Almadro on critics that inspired him

 I am not the weakest link -- Almadro
They said I am the weakest link, now I am proving them, I am not the weakest link. They said it to me that I am the weakest link, but now I am not the weakest link -- Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles coach Oliver Almadro

Oliver Almadro was once called the weakest link by a former team.

He proved them wrong when he distinguished himself as a part of an elite club of UAAP men’s volleyball champion coaches.  

The Ateneo de Manila mentor poured all of his emotions when he faced reporters minutes after the Blue Eagles completed a 79th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament season sweep for a rare three-peat Saturday in Game 2 of the best-of-three Finals series at the Big Dome.  

Ateneo de Manila defeated bitter rival National University, 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13, to extend its reign.  

Almadro joined the legendary coaches Kid Santos of Far Eastern University and Emil Lontoc of University of Sto. Tomas in the list of coaches with at least three straight titles in the Final Four era.

“It’s a rare three-peat kasi yung mga idol coaches ko pa lang ang nakakagawa nito. Sina coach Emil (Lontoc) ng UST and ‘yung mga FEU, sila pa lang ang nakakakuha eh,” said Almadro.

Tears rolled down the cheeks of Almadro, who returned to Ateneo in Season 76 with prized recruit eventual four-time season Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo in tow, when he recalled the struggles and challenges he endured before claiming the much-deserved glory.

“So it’s really, really special to me. For all the challenges in mg coaching career, my struggles, Ateneo believed in me,” said Almadro, who paused to pour down all the emotions he had been keeping inside.

“They took me back, believed in me. I didn't promise them anything, I didn't promise them anything,” he added. “But they really, really trusted me. My players trusted me. They know how hard I am, but they trusted me.”

Alamadro left the Blue Eagles in Season 72 and transferred to NU the following year where he brought his system and recruited blue chip recruits to strengthen the Bulldogs.

From a seventh place finish on Season 73, NU landed at fifth the next year but Almadro suddenly found himself out of the squad the following season when the Bulldogs won it all.     

Almadro came back to the Blue Eagles nest in Season 76 and steered Ateneo to the Finals for the first time since joining the league in 1978 but bowed down to NU.  

The loss only fueled the fire inside of Almadro and came back the next season prepared to conquer. Since Season 77, NU never tasted victory in their head-to-head.    

“It's really sweet for me, these 16 wins. Tears of joy, kaysa tears of sadness,” said Almadro.

“These are tears of joy because I remember what happened to me before I came back to Ateneo. I always remember that, and I took that as an inspiration to work hard,” he recalled. “And I took that as an inspiration for me, for my children, for my family and for my team.”

He even made a little swipe on his former team.

“They said I am the weakest link, now I am proving them, I am not the weakest link. They said it to me that I am the weakest link, but now I am not the weakest link,” said Almadro. “I surpassed their back-to-back, we are three-peat and we are gunning for four, I promise.”

He did prove that he's not the weakest link.

 

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

 

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