Trailing 1-2 in sets during Game One of the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Invitational Cup Finals, F2 Logistics head coach Ramil De Jesus was grasping at straws.
In his mind, De Jesus had made all the adjustments he could in the past sets, but to no avail – his Cargo Movers just weren’t playing at their usual level. In fact, they hadn’t been playing at their usual championship level for much of the tournament leading up to the Finals.
Some of his players were juggling academic responsibilities at La Salle, while others were more fatigued than usual due to training with the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team.
It was a cacophony of conundrums that was out of the 11-time UAAP head coach’s control. But, staring at a huge deficit with the title on the line, De Jesus knew his players had another gear.
After numerous heartbreaks and titles in the UAAP and PSL, De Jesus had built enough trust with his wards to not panic.
The Cargo Movers eventually made all the clutch plays needed to survive Game One, before sweeping Petron in Game Two.
F2 Logistics’ stars, as it turned out, pulled their strength from De Jesus’ faith in each of them. When the going got rough, their coach’s stern words rang in their heads.
“‘Yun lang siguro ang advantage namin kasi sila nag-start sa akin since rookie year nila sa college hanggang ngayon. Kilalang-kilala mo kung ano ‘yung kaya at hindi kaya, kung meron o walang problema. Madali nang nasusolusyunan,” De Jesus said of his team’s resiliency.
“Importante din na naniniwala sila sa sistema. Kung hindi sila naniniwala, wala mahihirapan kami manalo.”
Chief among the recipients of De Jesus trust was Kianna Dy. The UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Finals Most Valuable Player was unproductive through the quarterfinals up to the Finals.
Still, De Jesus trusted his wards to close each set of Game Two.
“That’s a motivation for me na coach Ramil trusts me, na pinapasok niya pa rin ako kahit na medyo off na ‘yung laro ko. For me, wow, kahit ganoon na nga, may tiwala pa rin sa akim si coach so kailangan kong magstep up. Kailangan ako rin may tiwala sa sarili ko,” said Dy.
“Siguro it’s an eye opener for me to work harder. Kailangan kong magtiwala sa sarili ko kasi parang ‘yun ‘yung nawala sa akin the past few games, nawalan ako ng kumpiyansa. Lagi naman akong nire-remind ni coach na I have to remember who I am and kung ano ‘yung mga capabilities ko,” the 23-year-old added.
“I have to work on that and my skills.”
De Jesus is fond of reminding players of who they are – champions in every level.
“Si coach Ramil talaga, ever since college hanggang ngayon, father figure siya sa amin. Sa totoo lang, hindi kami masyadong close. Madalang kami mag-usap, pero kapag nag-usap kami, may laman,” said Invitational Cup MVP Ara Galang, who delivered 15 points and 27 excellent receptions in Game Two.
“Kilala niya kasi kaming lahat, individually. Ganoon siya kagaling; alam niya kaming basahin o sabihin kung hindi kami ‘yung pinapakita namin. Kahit kaunting galaw lang namin, alam niya na kami.”
Even with players who haven’t been with him for long, De Jesus has earned their trust.
Take Michelle Morente: A thorn in De Jesus’ side throughout their Ateneo-La Salle wars.
With F2 Logistics, De Jesus got to know Morente and eventually got the former Lady Eagle to buy into his system.
“Siyempre, you have to earn your coaches trust kahit saang team ka pa mapunta, kahit saan ka galing. Knowing na he trusts me and may natutulong ako sa team, that’s a great feeling,” said the 22-year old, who played crucial minutes off the bench in the Finals.
“‘Yung bata kasi, naintindihan ko ‘yung nakikita ko sa kanya noon sa UAAP,” De Jesus quipped about Morente. “Ganito pala ‘yung attitude niya na kapag nasa loob ng court medyo mayabang, pero once na makilala mo siya, makikita mo na ubod ng bait. Minsan, binibiro mo ng below-the-belt, ayos lang sa kanya.
“Sobrang bait talaga.”