It seemed like another mirror image from last season as Ramil De Jesus’ De La Salle Lady Spikers once again found themselves finishing as bridesmaids to the rampaging Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Not so long ago, La Salle was on track to build another dynasty after winning three straight titles, two of which came at the expense of Ateneo, from 2010 to 2012. With a steady influx of high-caliber players and a solid foundation, it can be said that any team would be facing an uphill battle when facing DLSU.
But a twist of fate occurred.
The Lady Spikers were still the mean green machine that everyone knew prior to the start of the season. However, the arrival of Anusorjn “Tai” Bundit crippled La Salle’s once sturdy brick wall, and had them searching for answers.
In fact, De Jesus already has back-to-back setbacks in the Finals to account for since the jubilant coach’s arrival in the country.
“Mahirap talaga kasi [lumaban sa Ateneo] since paano mo sila [La Salle] mamotivate given ‘yung nangyari [na injury] kay Ara,” commented De Jesus when asked about his thoughts on the lopsided championship series. “Kasi alam naman nila na leader nila ang nawala.”
Since manning the sidelines for DLSU way back in 1999, De Jesus has been a steadying presence for the school’s volleyball program.
In his 16-year stint for De La Salle, the multi-titled coach mentored the likes of volleyball superstars in Manilla Santos, Maureen Penetrante, Mitch Datuin, Desiree Hernandez, Cha Cruz, Michele Gumabao, Melissa Gohing, Abigail Maraño and many more.
In addition, he also has a grand total of eight championships with a couple of three-peats from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012.
During his championship heydays, De Jesus’ system placed a premium on defense. It was very evident that his mantra for putting a huge emphasis on the grit-and-grind mentality clearly frustrated his opponents game in and game out.
Now, De Jesus is on the other end of the stick with Bundit’s coaching style as his latest puzzle to crack. Yes, Bundit may be seen goofing around with his happy-go-lucky personality during games, but the players themselves indicated that he has the most rigorous training scheme.
De Jesus faced a lot of setbacks against hard-hitting opponents during his earlier years, but this one against Ateneo is his toughest yet.
“Actually yes, kasi iba na at solid ang performance ng Ateneo. Ever since naman kami ang nakakahandle ng situation at kami ang dominant,” shared De Jesus. “So ngayon kami naman ang naghahabol so kailangan siguro mag-adjust ng system. Mas solid sila [Ateneo] this year, since last year nag-aadapt pa sila sa system ng coach nila.”
With a long offseason ahead of them, De Jesus also indicated that he shall make tweaks to his system to adapt to how well Ateneo has been playing since Bundit’s arrival.
“Ang spirit [to play ng team ko], lagi naman nandoon and siguro kailangan lang talagang kumapit at mag-prepare at mag-adapt ng bagong system,” De Jesus added. “Ito kasi ‘yung nadala sa atin ng Thai coach kaya kailangan habulin natin [ang laro at ginagawa niya] sa Philippines. Kailangan matuto kami [sa pagkatalo namin] ngayon, at kailan namin mag-adapt [sa bagong system] kasi ibang level na ito.”