Jerrili Malabanan is playing with new-found confidence
ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2017 07:19 PM
On loan from the Far Eastern U Lady Tamaraws, Fil-Am Jerrili Malabanan says she’s playing with a high level of confidence now as a member of the Balipure Water Defenders in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League.
Jerrili Malabanan is having the time of her life now.
The 21-year-old, five-foot-10 BS Biology student from Far Eastern University is happily living out the only purpose for which the Malabanans have relocated from California, USA, to Manila – to have the eldest of the four children in the family play volleyball in the UAAP.
“Yes po, we relocated to the Philippines from California so that I could play in the UAAP,” says the soft-spoken Jerrili. “It was my parents’ specific wish that I play in the UAAP.”
And play she did for three years now for the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the country’s most popular university league. After last season’s UAAP, coach Roger Gorayeb recruited her to suit up for Balipure in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League, another joint effort of Sports Vision as organizer, Asics as official league partner, and Mikasa as official game ball.
Little did Jerrili know that she’d find her niche in her first ever commercial league. She’s on a roll as a surprise first-stringer on Balipure, a team anchored on NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones of San Sebastian College and the National U Lady Bulldogs’ quartet of utility spiker Aiko Urdas, open attacker Jorelle Singh, middle blocker Risa Sato, and prodigious setter Jasmine Nabor.
Resigned to playing the substitute’s role again as in her UAAP stints, Jerrili was not among the first six Water Defenders introduced by the barker prior to the start of Balipure’s first game against Philippine Air Force.
Right from the get-go, the Lady Jet Spikers and the Water Defenders engaged in a tooth-and-nail contest. Singh was surprisingly off-form and had to be pulled out in favor of Jerrili, who scored on her first attack right away to set the tone of her hot performance the rest of the match.
The Water Defenders lost the first set, but won the next three, thanks to the double-digit productions of Soltones (16), Sato (12), and Malabanan (12).
Coach Gorayeb was so impressed by Jerrili’s first outing that until their fifth match against the Creamline Cool Smashers, he made her one of his regular six starters.
In their next game against the Power Smashers, she top-scored for her team with 20 points, 19 of them on attacks, to power Balipure to its second straight win.
In piling up 15 points in a winning stand against the Cool Smashers last May 16, second highest among the Water Defenders after Sato’s 16, Jerrili, averaging a high 12.5 points per game, helped Balipure entrench itself at the top of the six-team field with a 4-1 record.
“I’m playing with a new-found confidence now,” says she. “When you’re given more playing minutes, you develop self-confidence, much more so when your coach and teammates keep building up your moral. In the UAAP I never knew when I would be fielded so my confidence level kept changing, low now, high the next, and then low again. It was frustrating.”
On the bright side, her family, which has roots in Cavite and Isabela on opposite sides of Luzon, is fully behind her whether she gets playing time or not.
Her dad, who had played varsity sport for Lyceum during his collegiate years here, understands well the importance of family support for an athlete. He and his three other daughters – Janice, 19; Jennifer, 17; and Jerimae, 9 – make up a cheering squad whenever and wherever the firstborn plays.
On the rare occasions that her mom is home from her work in California, she also makes it a point to watch Jerrili’s games live.
“My mom just can’t leave her job in the States yet.”
It’s probably one of the sacrifices the Malabanans have to make so that one of the daughters can continue playing in the home country.