I had another trip to Manila mid-February.  It happened that the scheduled game was the second round match of National University and De La Salle University.  I didn’t want to pass upon the chance to watch the game since I thought (and most people did) that it was preview of the championship game.  I was able to purchase three patron tickets online for the February 15 game.

As usual, I begged my friends to go to Araneta Coliseum early.  There was already a long line at the entrance even before the gates were opened.  Majority of those waiting were in green.  I think we got good seats because the players coming from the dug-outs passed by our section.

When we got there, the Golden Tigresses were chasing each other around the court… I didn’t know if they were playing tag or something.  There weren’t too many people yet inside since it was just a little over past one in the afternoon and the game was scheduled at 2:00 pm.  But the venue wasn’t fully lighted either, which made it hard to take photos… and I’m not very good at flash photography.  But I managed somehow to take a lot of photos.

I was rooting for Adamson over UST because I loved how much of a fighter the Lady Falcons were… and I admired how Pineda plays.  She defies the common perception that height is everything in most sport.  Despite standing 5’4″, she can gut it out with the bigger, stronger and taller players.  She was playing on her final year… you really have to give it to her.  The fans in Araneta that day agreed with me… not that they were cheering for Adamson but they were rather cheering for Bang Pineda.  Three Adamson players were playing on their final year — Pineda, Zapanta and Macatuno.   They needed the win to secure their slot in the final four.

This was UST’s last game for season 76 and they were out of the running for the final four.  Much to the dismay of their fans since UST was once a powerhouse in UAAP women’s volleyball.  They are now described as a starless team.  But the Tigresses came out to play that day.  They can do no wrong in the game.  Their blocking was solid, they defended the floor, the spikers hit their targets, the bench players contributed, even their much maligned setter performed well.

Loren Lantin, one of the most underrated setter-blocker

Reading some volleyball forums, I discovered that the UST starting setter, Loren Lantin actually has a lot of haters and bashers.  (I don’t know if she can give Marano a run for her money.)  But my heart goes out to Lantin who is a freshman med proper student and an athlete playing collegiate volleyball.  I’m not an expert in the sport, so I can’t judge the player’s performance.  She’s not as exciting or as talented as Morado, Sy, Fajardo or Esperanza… or Dimaculangan and other previous UST setters.  But I don’t think anyone is entitled to spite or malign another especially if it refers to their person and not just their competence as athletes.  For me, I just like to watch the game… and even love it better if I get the chance to take photographs.

the Golden Tigresses taking the fourth set and the game from the Lady Falcons

Adamson only managed to win the third set… and eventually lost the match on the fourth.  UST ended their Season 76 campaign on good note.

one will actually run out of adjectives and adverbs to describe how Bang Pineda plays

As for Pineda and the rest of the Adamson squad, they have to wait for the remaining matches of FEU to be find out if they can make it to the final four.  The Lady Falcons have suffered back to back losses… dropping also their previous game against NU.

Pineda on the defensive end as the ball sails off from the serve of Lantin

This is my favorite photo of the match though the focus is somewhat off… or not where I wanted it to be.  Well, the game is very fast.  I try to anticipate the players’ movements the best I could… but most often, I just press the shutter and hope that I get a good one.


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