UAAP Season 82: Risa Sato hopes to find redemption in return

Mark Escarlote on Feb 08, 2020 07:13 PM
Risa Sato hopes to find redemption in return
Reunited with the National University Lady Bulldogs, senior Risa Sato is ready to reintroduce herself to the UAAP. (Arvin Lim)

Tears rolled down Risa Sato’s cheeks as she recalled how helpless she was at the sidelines while National University campaigned in the UAAP wars last year.

She was supposed to suit up as the leader of the Lady Bulldogs, guiding a young pack after the departure of Jaja Santiago. But instead, Sato came with the team to the games in street clothes as a spectator after academic issues barred her from seeing action.

“Last year sobrang nasaktan ako,” said the Fil-Japanese, whose eyes welled with tears while talking with ABS-CBN Sports. “Di ba last season lagi lang ako nood sa kanila? Gusto ko pumasok sa court.”

A year after her ordeal, Sato rejoins the Lady Bulldogs with the vow of taking NU all the way.

“Ito iniisip ko, babawi ako talaga,” said Sato, who has shown impressive improvement with her Filipino. “Sobrang happy ako. Matagal akong naghintay for Season 82.”

In her return, Sato is tasked by head coach Norman Miguel to lead a squad composed of a good mix of veterans, experienced sophomores and promising recruits.

Her new role, Sato admits, came as a surprise.

“Nu’ng sabi nila team captain daw ako sabi ko, ‘Eh wait lang, paano salita ko?’ Yun naisip ko talaga na sana naintindihan nila ako, yan lagi isip ko,” said Sato, who is also playing in the PVL for powerhouse Creamline.

Aside from her much-needed presence at the net following the departure of last year’s 1st Best Middle Blocker Roselyn Doria and as a court leader, Sato is also helping the team adapt the Japanese system she’s very much familiar with.

“Gusto ko na help din si coach Norman sa training,” she said. “Ang mga players kapag mali ang ginagawa, mali ang spike parang ako din nagtuturo sa kanila, hindi si coach Norman lang. Naghi-help din ako sa kanila.”

Her inputs and contributions are well-received.

“Isip ko sa Japan sistema saka Philippines sistema, iba-iba. Gusto ko turo ko sa kanila na Japanese na sistema,” said Sato. “Hindi ko alam nu’ng una if turo ko sa kanila Japanese na sistema follow ba sila sa akin? Dami isip ko. Iniisip ko basta OK lang adjust lang ako and turo ako sa kanila ng Japanese system.”

“OK naman lagi ako sabi sa kanila na happy-happy lang paglalaro and follow naman sila,” she added.

Sato is also very excited to play alongside sophomore middle Ivy Lacsina and libero Jen Nierva and 6-foot-2 rookie hitter Margot Mutshima Kabasu of Congo.      

“Si Audrey [Paran] lang at Joni [Chavez] kasama [ko dati] kasi iba first time ko lang kasama sa UAAP. Sina Jennifer at Ivy first time ko makasama. Excited talaga [ako],” Sato said.

Motivated to reintroduce herself in the UAAP, Sato has a laser-like focus in her swan song.  

“Babawi talaga ako this season para mag-champion,” said Sato.   

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