Ateneo de Manila University players saw themselves at the center of a controversy with the team’s internal issues made public by their former team manager during the offseason.
Conflict surrounding the players, head coach Tai Bundit and his coaching staff and the school’s athletic department put the team in a bad light just a few months after the Lady Eagles failed to reclaim the UAAP crown and losing key players either by graduation, injuries or simply by quitting the squad.
It didn’t help that the team failed to advance in the Final Four of the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference.
But Ateneo was able to get through the “ALE-serye” and the lessons they’ve learned from that episode just made the team even stronger.
“The measure of a good team is how you deal with things when they don't go your way. I think, as a team, we were able to do that,” said fourth-year player Bea De Leon. “The one thing that I'm really proud of about is, when you look at all these individuals, they're very good-hearted people.”
“With that comes very good character that allowed us to overcome things like sama ng loob and everything else that passed that tried to bring us down,” she added. “I think we handled the situation very well. I think we're a lot stronger in terms of our morals and character.”
Team captain Maddie Madayag was just as relieved that the team was able to patch things up.
“After everything that happened, it made us stronger naman. Nalagpasan namin 'yung phase na 'yun,” the middle blocker said. “Every team has its problems. Siguro, it differs na lanh on how people respond. We faced our problems talaga. It made us stronger as a team.”
“I think the team has become super close with everything that's happened,” Kat Tolentino agreed. “All the obstacles and hardships that we went through has only made us stronger.”
“It's very cliché to say that, but I really believe it. From the beginning, since PVL where we were one of the bottom seeds, we've improved so much. We just had our Thailand training and we did really well,” she added. “We're not at the peak yet. But, considering our trainings from July to now, there's definitely been an improvement.”
Tolentino continued that they learned a valuable lesson from all that had happened.
“I think we just have to kind of ride it. Every team has their controversies and squabbles or politics,” said second year hitter. “That's just one thing the team had to go through for whatever amount of weeks.”
“In the end, it's the fact that we come together and learn from our mistakes and then we also adjust,” she added. “We need to use that to push us forward.”
The Lady Eagles will open their campaign against another top contender in Far Eastern University at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
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