Cherry Rondina was built for All-Star games.
Most of her contemporaries are taller than her; some are more decorated, and others more celebrated. But Rondina has her own gravitational pull: drawing attention with her unwavering, surging energy.
The Cebuana plays like her life depends on it on regular days, but when you put her in loosely structured All-Star matches, Rondina cannot help but explode.
But instead of flames and shrapnel, the University of Santo Tomas Tigress threw out cartwheels on Sunday evening.
She first attempted one before going up for a spike, using the athletic maneuver as a springboard for an emphatic smash. Then, late in the fourth set, the crowd jeered the 5-foot-5 open hitter into three more cartwheels before the serve.
“Sabi kasi sa akin ni coach (Kungfu Reyes) All-Star naman kaya tumbling daw ako. Sinubukan ko lang naman. Hindi ko din ginagawa sa practice ‘yon. Kanina lang talaga,” an exhausted Rondina told the media right after the All-Star match, which her team had won.
Asked if he was going to allow his ward to cartwheel in games during the UAAP, UST head coach Kungfu Reyes laughed.
“Si Sisi (Rondina) na talaga yan [nakaisip na mag-tumbling]. Sa akin naman, basta pumasok, ayos lang,” Reyes joked.
What isn’t a joke, however, is Rondina’s expanding offensive repertoire. In the All-Star match, she showed off a jump serve which netted three service aces.
In true Rondina fashion, the incoming junior said she was just having fun playing for a cause.
“Ang akin lang, maipakita ko sa mga manunuod ‘yung gusto nila and makatulong sa kapwa ko kahit sa maliit na bagay lang, sobrang saya ko na.”