Lady Eagles eye to duplicate bronze finish in AUG
Mark Escarlote on Jul 06, 2016 04:14 PM
Ateneo de Manila will again target a modest bronze medal finish in the 18th ASEAN University Games in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of Ateneo Volleyball Management)
Ateneo de Manila is looking to duplicate its women’s volleyball bronze medal finish two years ago when the Lady Eagles march into battle in the 18th ASEAN University Games in Singapore from July 9 to 19.
The Lady Eagles represented Team UAAP-Philippines in the 2014 edition held in Palembang, Indonesia and finished third, winning three games including their bronze medal match sweep of Malaysia 25-11, 25-11, 25-16, behind the combined efforts of Alyssa Valdez and Ella De Jesus.
“We’re targeting the bronze medal. Sa Palembang kasi we won bronze so ang tina-target namin ngayon ay bronze again,” Ateneo team manager Tony Boy Liao told ABS-CBN Sports.
The team official said that duplicating their feat two years ago is doable for the UAAP Season 78 runner-up behind rival De La Salle.
“‘Yung Thailand at Indonesia medyo mabigat pero ‘yung Indonesia kayang talunin,” said Liao.
The Lady Eagles’ only losses in the 2014 edition were at the hands of Thailand and Indonesia – all in four sets. The experience they gained in the stint helped Ateneo win its second straight UAAP title in Season 77.
Looking at the field, Liao said that head coach Tai Bundit has seen the Malaysian team training in Thailand and the Lady Eagles have a great chance of defeating the Malaysians as well as Singapore.
“Doon kasi walang battle for bronze. Kapag nag-third ka na sa eliminations, third (bronze) ka na n'un,” Liao added.
Schedule of the games is yet to be finalized.
Ateneo is set to fly to Singapore on July 9 and Valdez is expected to once again lead the Lady Eagles for the last time.
Valdez is playing in the V-League for BaliPure, which will play in the battle for third against Laoag on July 13.
Also making a return stint for the Lady Eagles are Michelle Morente and Ana Gopico.
Morente was part of the team that bagged the 2014 AUG bronze but was cut in the official lineup for UAAP Season 78 because of academic problems. Gopico was out for more than two seasons since suffering a knee injury midway in Season 76.
“We used to have 14 players in the UAAP, so si Kiwi (Ahomiro) hindi pwede kasi foreigner. Si Maddie (Madayag) injured, si Therese Gaston umayaw na, si Mae Tajima wala na rin. Ang lineup natin doon ay 12 lang, so sa last UAAP core, 10 lang ang natira,” said Liao. “Idadagdag na natin doon sina Mitch at Gopico.”
Ateneo accepted the invite to represent the country in the biennial regional sports meet for student-athletes as early as last year.
"Sending a team to the AUG was already decided by members of the UAAP board as early as late last year, way before La Salle won the women's volleyball title,” said Ateneo athletic director Emmanuel Fernandez in a separate interview earlier to clear the issue regarding the representation of the school despite losing a three-peat bid in the UAAP. “Since the deadline was tight and we need to come up with the team, the UAAP board asked Ateneo to be its representative."
With AUG to be held on July instead of the usual December schedule, the organizers asked the UAAP to name their representatives as early as November last year.
UAAP volleyball opened last February.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles