The Lady Eagles take their one-game-at-a-time mantra to heart.
After the Ateneo de Manila University squeezed past the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, the Lady Eagles improved their record a league-best 9-1 and have officially made the Final Four.
With a team of coaches and players locked in on the season, one would think Ateneo would have known the implications if they had won against FEU. But no one with Ateneo knew they had reached one of their pre-season objectives, not even the players.
Jhoana Maraguinot, who scored her season-high 23 points against FEU, let out a cheerful dance before saying, “Talaga?” — a genuine sign of disbelief and relief for having achieved the small feat.
“Siyempre, we’re happy. Pero hindi lang doon ‘yung fous namin. Marami pa kaming goals and kailangan pa mag-improve so we still need to keep getting better every game,” added the Batangas-native.
“Actually no, you just told me,” added middle blocker Bea De Leon when asked about the team making Final Four.
“Definitely really happy because that was the first goal in the league. From there, we can’t relax. Sana pataas na kami.”
And that mindset of not looking at the record is something that Thai head coach Tai Bundit has always preached in his four-year stay in Katipunan.
“Inuulit ko, walang 8-1 o 9-1 sa amin. Kung anong kinalabasan ng training, doon kami nag-ba-base,” reiterated Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses.
“Hindi kasi talaga iniisip ‘yan ni coach Tai kasi gusto niya na pataas lang ‘yung laro namin.”
On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles will play the National University Lady Bulldogs, marking their fourth game in two weeks — one of the busiest schedules in the second round.
There really is no rest for for those who want to be the best.
“That’s hard ah, ‘yo give us a break,'” quipped De Leon.
“Okay lang naman, at least may momentum kasi ‘di mag be-break. Pero nakakapagod kasi walang pahinga. But we’ll work with what we’re given with and play our best.”