Pressure situations have been the National University Lady Bulldogs’ waterloo over the last three seasons. The Lady Bulldogs would be in the Final Four race, but always succumbed in crucial matches.
NU got a dose of early pressure in Season 80, seeing their 2-0 set lead dissipate against the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles.
With a roaring pro-Ateneo crowd behind the Lady Eagles, the Lady Bulldogs were unperturbed, gutting out a resounding fifth-set rally to earn their second win.
NU’s new head coach Babes Castillo lauded his team’s character in the face of adversity. He recognized that past NU squads would have faltered in the same situation.
“They trusted each other as one character I saw. I’ve seen this group of ladies before, three years ago, four years ago ang normal na ginagawa nila kapag ganyan (tambak na) they don’t affirm and confirm each other. Kanina hindi eh, smile lang,” said Castillo, admiring Jaja Santiago’s resiliency against Ateneo.
“So nakikita ko na ang energy nila eh, they are really walking the talk.
“Noong sinabi ni Jaja na this season ipaglalaban ko ‘to, sa training pa lang nakikita ko ‘yun eh. She really is fighting for NU,” Castillo added of her team captain, who scored 26 points.
Unlike before, Castillo simplified NU’s approach this season to three simple steps.
“Pinaalala ko ang ‘yung paano kami nag-start, three things.
“Number one is natutunan namin from the first game, is we really need to get our deserved respect through hard work, bawat puntos kailangan talaga paghirapan. Number two, whistle to whistle. From whistle to whistle hundred percent lang, kung ano man ang mangyari, whatever opponent makes a point or you make a point, as long as you give out your hundred percent panalo tayo,” the eccentric mentor shared.
“Then third, communication. Medyo noong huli nahihirapan si Jaja, Jasmine [Nabor] had a hard time when she’s giving out instructions, walang nagre-respond back, siguro ‘yung crowd or ‘yung tension. Those are the three things. Ni-remind ko and they quickly went back to it,” Castillo concluded.
Maybe, it’s making things simple that will work for the championship-hungry Lady Bulldogs.