DID YOU KNOW? Marck Espejo almost played for La Salle
Mark Escarlote on Jul 06, 2020 03:41 PM
(Photo: Arvin Lim)
Marck Espejo’s arrival to Ateneo de Manila University brought miracles for the Blue Eagles.
Former head coach Oliver Almadro even anointed Espejo as ‘God’s gift’ to the Ateneo men’s volleyball program, which for years struggled to keep up with other powerhouse teams in the UAAP.
He brought the Blue Eagles to the Finals in his first year. Although the squad fell short against National University, Espejo’s performance made Ateneo an emerging power.
With the prized Marikina recruit at the helm, Ateneo captured its breakthrough title in Season 77, which the Blue Eagles kept for two more years.
Espejo’s name is synonymous to that of Ateneo's grand slam.
But did you know that Espejo almost chose the color green of the Katipunan-based squad’s archrival De La Salle University?
Yes, we all know that Almadro discovered a jewel in the then second-year high school Espejo when the mentor was still a part of the Bulldogs coaching staff.
However, fate planned a different course for both Espejo and Almadro.
Almadro parted ways with NU and Espejo went through a rough time in his last year in high school.
Different universities approached the promising Espejo the following year since meeting Almadro during his third year Palarong Pambansa stint.
But in his fourth year he suffered a left arm injury while playing in an inter-barangay basketball tournament, barring Espejo from joining his last Palarong Pambansa.
His absence in the national meet pushed him out of the radar of scouts.
“Before Palaro ayun nga nabalian ako so wala pong coaches na nakakakilala po sa akin kundi si Coach O lang po talaga,” said Espejo in an interview on 2OT podcast last Saturday.
Espejo was already looking to commit to another school that time.
“Balak ko po sana pumasok sa La Salle,” Espejo shared.
But Almadro knew that to turn Ateneo into a contender he needed to get Espejo.
“Pero last minute parang pinahanap ako ni Coach O sa players niya, kay JP Pareja para mag-Ateneo ako,” said Espejo.
He immediately grabbed the opportunity when he was offered to play for the Blue Eagles.
“Siyempre ‘yung Ateneo po kasi dream school ko po talaga ‘yun so wala po talagang second thought, pumasok na po talaga ako,” said Espejo. “Saka ‘yung volleyball po ginamit ko po talaga para makapasok sa magandang university pero yun nga po, since nakapasok na po ako sa Ateneo parang inisip ko na lang po yung long-term na education po talaga.”
Under Almadro’s guidance, Espejo turned into one of the most powerful and efficient hitters in the UAAP. He further evolved into an all-around player and the face of Philippine men's volleyball.
Espejo led Ateneo to a three-peat while winning Rookie of the Year in Season 77 and bagging the Most Valuable Player award five times.
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