Getting eliminated in the post-season is painful for any team. Once the buzzer sounds, it’s as if the whole season turned out to be a failure in spite of the wins achieved to get there.
The University of the East Lady Warriors met such an fate, as they succumbed to a 50-72 loss at the hands of the De La Salle University Lady Archers to end their UAAP Season 79 Women’s Basketball Tournament run.
“Malungkot kasi pangit nung pagkatalo namin na alam ko naman na pinaghandaan namin.
“Yun yung sinabi ko sa mga bata ngayon na every time na maglalaro tayo dito sa ganitong situwasyon, dapat iba yung laro natin,” commented UE mentor Aileen Lebornio.
From 0-14 to Bronze
Four seasons ago, the Lady Warriors had been 0-14. Brick by brick, step by step, Lebornio helped rebuild the program, turning the once cellar-dwellers of the league into contenders.
Despite the elimination, the four-year head coach believes that this season has been a success, after going up a place compared to a season ago.
“Pinaka-blessing dun, from last year fourth place kami, ngayon naging third place kami. Yung sabi ko sa mga bata ay yung sakit na nararamdaman namin lahat, gawin naming inspirasyon for next season,” shared Lebornio.
Mendina’s success, Lebornio’s Pride
The Lady Warriors will only lose one player to graduation and that’s Nicole Mendina. Mendina contributed eight points in her final outing for UE against La Salle, last November 30 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Mendina’s graduation was a source of pride for Lebornio.
“Ito yung unang-unang player ko in my four years in UE na gra-graduate. Kasi yung iba ko kasi na-graduate sila from other coach yun,” she shared.
“Ito talaga sa akin. I’m happy for that na talagang nag-push siya para tapusin ang pag-aaral.”
As for Mendina herself, the fifth-year player spoke of fulfillment at the end of her last game as a Lady Warrior.
“Masaya pa din ako kasi kahit hindi namin nakuha yung main goal, may narating pa rin yung team ko. Masaya akong aalis sa team ko. At least kahit natalo kami ngayon, may na-achieve pa rin kami,” the winger said.
Mendina has no regrets after being part of the UE squad for five years. The Music, Arts, PE and Health student also added that finishing her studies was an achievement in itself due to the importance of education.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Mendina in the UAAP, having experienced both highs and lows playing for the Recto school.
“Nakaka-proud kasi naabutan ko yung UE na walang-wala talaga. Ever since dumating si coach Aileen Lebornio, dun lang nagbago lahat.
“May mga alumni na pumupunta sa amin. Sila yung last na nag-champion sa UAAP, 1975 pa daw. Nakakaproud kasi sinusuportahan nila kami at sinasabi nila na ibang-iba ng ang UE ngayon after 41 years, ngayon land daw magkaka-trophy and UE Women’s Basketball,” added Mendina.
Both Lebornio and Mendina have high hopes for next season, and Mendina has faith in her former teammates that they will keep on fighting in Season 80. Lebornio, though, has loftier goals.
“Next season. Iba target namin. Target namin championship. Next season aabangan nila kami. Mark my words.
“Hindi mag-iiba yung tingin nila sa amin. And I think yung mga player ko malaki ang natutunan nila. Yun ang target namin next season is championship,” she vowed.