'God's gift' Espejo delivers Ateneo closer to title no. 2
Mark Escarlote on Apr 23, 2016 04:01 PM
As I’ve said, Marck is God’s gift to Ateneo. Sinabi ko na ‘yan before -- Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro
Ateneo de Manila head coach Oliver Almadro is all praises for his prized hitter Marck Espejo.
He even went as far as calling him a messiah for the Blue Eagles.
“As I’ve said, Marck is God’s gift to Ateneo. Sinabi ko na ‘yan before,” he said.
Not bad for a third year player who’s second name is Jesus.
Espejo showcased the same brilliance that won him two straight Most Valuable Player awards when he rallied the Katipunan-based squad from a set down to a 23-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-18 conquest of National University for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three 78th UAAP men’s volleyball finals Saturday at the Big Dome.
“Natutuwa ako na dito sinasabihan niya ako ng ganoon. Proud din ako sa sarili ko na hindi ko siya pini-fail,” said Espejo blushing.
“Hindi niya ako pini-fail. Basta sinabihan ko siya, he really never fails me,” answered Almadro.
The recruit from Marikina finished with game-high 21 points including 18 from 30 spike attempts as Ateneo moved a step closer to a back-to-back.
Espejo, who is a strong contender for a third MVP recognition, said that all of his efforts are for his graduating teammate especially skipper Ysay Marasigan.
“Sa ngayon po ang iniisip ko lang po (ibigay) ito sa mga graduating teammates ko po,” he said. “Gusto ko (mag-champion) para pag gumradweyt sila may (happy) memories silang makukuha sa team namin.”
“Siguro sabi nga ni coach kailangan ko talagang pumukpok ng pumukpok. Iniisip ko lang talaga para sa teammates ko at sa school and coaches.”
Despite the huge numbers Espejo gives day in and day out, Almadro also gave credit to his team’s all-out effort in the squad’s seventh straight win over the same opponent that they defeated in last year’s finale.
“Pero I always reiterate to my players that ‘individual accolades come when team success happens’. So if not for (setter) Ish Polvorosa he won’t be spiking hard. If not for his teammates na rume-receive hindi rin siya makakapalo and if not for Rex (Intal) and Josh (Villanueva) na buma-block sa kalaban namin hindi rin kami magkaka-transition,” said Almadro.
“So it’s really a team effort. It just so happen na si Marck ang anchor namin pagdating sa offense. Malaking factor ‘yun na mayroon kaming Marck Espejo.”
Game 2 is on Wednesday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
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