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Danica Jose and a legacy to remember

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Many basketball careers go down championship-less, but what matters for athletes is the greatness and legacy for which they shall be remembered.

Departing Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagle center Danica Jose is happy to have been part of something special for her team in her final season in the UAAP, especially after the squad went on a memorable run that drew the attention and respect of both the Ateneo community and their opponents.

Finishing with just a 1-13 record two seasons ago and another losing record last year, expectations were low for the Lady Eagles in the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball tournament.

The team played lethargically in its first few outings, which included an uninspiring 43-29 loss to the University of the East in the first round. It was clear the team was still trying to develop its identity and was still struggling to find the right formula.

As the Lady Eagles plummeted to the bottom of the team standings, people started to wonder how far the team could go in the season.

Ateneo suffered more setbacks, and at 4-7 in the middle of the second round, the team was on the verge of ending another campaign in disappointment. But that was when things changed, and the Lady Eagles approached their next games differently.

“We had to play like it was our last game,” Jose said.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Danica Jose and a legacy to remember

The team showed more flair, played better basketball, and displayed immeasurable grit throughout a roller-coaster season, and it was enough to give them a playoff for a Final Four berth.

Head coach Erika Dy would often remind the Lady Eagles to play with compassion, and dedicate the games to each other.

Still, expectations were low. It was an uncharted territory for the team’s core. But after seeing a 16-point differential at halftime in their rubber match against the University of Santo Tomas, the Lady Eagles had realized what they could achieve.

“When we won against UST, that’s when we realized we were capable of winning do-or-die games.”

The tiny flicker of hope started to intensify. And the miracle run began for the team, shocking no. 3 seed UE before outlasting no. 2 seed and twice-to-beat De La Salle University — a team that had defeated them in both elimination round meetings — in the semi-finals.

“Come UE game, dikit rin yung laban noon but I remember my coach telling us kapit lang at kaya namin. True enough, ayaw naming masayang dahil ang layo na ng narating namin,” Jose shared. “Against La Salle, ang hirap isipin na twice-to-beat sila pero we looked at it as a chance to redeem ourselves.”

As Ateneo triumphed in one win-or-go-home game after another, they soon captivated a community and made them realize it was a totally different Ateneo team playing now.

“It’s an honor we are being recognized this season. The Ateneo community realizes lumaban kami this year. We were fighting for every possession. Maski bago ang coaching staff and talo kami sa standing for most part, talagang lumaban kami. I think that’s the one thing kaya people started recognizing our team,” Jose shared.

Even after bowing down to powerhouse National University in the finals, Jose and the rest of the Lady Eagles stood proud of what they have accomplished this season.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Danica Jose and a legacy to remember

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