UAAP Season 81: One more year to make it right, to end it right – BDL
Mark Escarlote on Feb 13, 2019 02:41 PM
I came back for my team. I love them so much and I just really, really want one more chance to get it right -- Bea De Leon
Bea de Leon didn’t need a lot of convincing to return for her swan song with Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
Yes, it did took a while for her to announce her decision but it gave her enough time to set her mind into her one last dance with the blue and white.
A year ago, De Leon shared the agony and anguish of the Lady Eagles after Far Eastern University ended their six-year run to the Finals.
Now back for her final season with the Lady Eagles, De Leon is on a mission to set things right before she bids adieu to a colorful collegiate career.
“Well, kasi siyempre I finished (Management Economics). I graduated last year, so I really had a choice not to come back,” said De Leon, who helped the Lady Eagles complete a rare tournament sweep in Season 77 – Ateneo’s last of back-to-back titles.
“But 'yun nga, Coach (Oliver Almadro) said talaga we didn't even make the finals last year which was a heartbreaking event for all of us. And just to know that you have one more year to make it right, to end it right, to get the goal and the dream, you know that's really what pushed me,” De Leon continued.
After the Lady Eagles fell short of making it to the Finals in head coach Tai Bundit’s last season, De Leon asked for some time to think about her future with Ateneo.
Then, Almadro gave her a ring one day.
“Coach O called me one day when he finally knew he's gonna coach, he said, ‘Bea, gusto kitang part ng team ko. I want you to leave a legacy that you want.’ And for me, you know, when someone says that, how could you say no 'di ba?” recalled De Leon. “So, yeah. I came back for my team. I love them so much and I just really, really want one more chance to get it right.”
Almadro, the architect of the Blue Eagles’ three-peat from Seasons 77 to 79 and the successor to Tai Bundit, knew that if he wants to make a good run in his first year as Ateneo women’s team coach he must have someone he can trust to lead the squad inside the court.
“Bumalik si Bea to prove something. Bea played her fifth year para ma-prove niya na kaya niya. Kaya niya na mag-lead ng team at kaya niya na umabot sa goal niya last year,” he said.
Oliver appointed De Leon and another graduating player, Maddie Madayag, as co-team captains.
A role that De Leon welcomed with open arms.
“Well, I think my number one role in this team is to really bring the fire and the passion which Coach O also mentioned was one of the biggest reasons why he called me up,” said De Leon. “He always knew that I had, you know, the fire in my eyes. 'Cause he talks like that eh. And the motivation to bring it to the team.”
“So, as a game captain, parang kumbaga, ang pinaka-role ko is hawakan sila,” she added. “To really encourage them and make them believe that they're the best volleyball players in the Philippines, or at least, in the UAAP.”
With De Leon back in the fold and with other veterans in Madayag, Ponggay Gaston, Kim Gequillana, Kat Tolentino and last year’s Best Setter Deanna Wong with promising rookies Vanessa Gandler and Jaja Maraguinot, Ateneo could be looking at another strong tittle run this season.
With a report from Danine Cruz.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles