Ramil de Jesus built a dominant, intimidating volleyball institution with the De La Salle University Lady Spikers.
Since taking over, the FEU alum led the Taft-based squad to eight UAAP titles, most recently nabbing the Season 78 crown after a two-year title drought. The Lady Spikers also have numerous Intercol, Shakey’s V-League, and even a UAAP Juniors title under de Jesus’ guidance.
But he didn’t have the same luck at the semi-professional level. The decorated mentor started coaching in the Philippine Superliga with Air Asia. As conferences passed, his team changed name to Generika, to Shopinas.com, then to Meralco. All the while, he fell short of a title, making the finals twice only to settle for silver.
Entering this season’s All-Filipino Conference, de Jesus was admittedly confident. This time bannering the gold, black, and yellow of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, de Jesus assembled his best team yet, bringing in the core of his Season 78 title-winning team and mixing in other former La Sallian champions.
They were on the ropes but, finally, his ladies came through, weathering the furious Foton Tornadoes in three hard-fought games to bring home the AFC title.
Touting his former and current Lady Spikers, and his brand of disciplined, tough-nosed volleyball, de Jesus has reached the PSL mountain top after four seasons.
“Sabi ko naman this All-Filipino Conference, mas prepared kami. First interview ko, sinabi ko na iyon,” he claimed in a press conference right after their coronation.
Having coached up to the international level, he also admitted there the title gave him validation but, as always, he was prouder of how his team banded together and developed through the season.
“Hindi ko na iniisip ‘yon (personal legacy). Ang importante sa akin, kung ano yung naging performance ng team since day one hanggang sa championship,” the decorated mentor beamed.
Ultimately, chemistry played the biggest role as de Jesus revealed that he and his staff saw his team play better when they fielded the core of the Season 78 title team.
The championship came down to de Jesus opting to use Cyd Demecillo, who he barely gave minutes to this season, over former PSL ambassador Cha Cruz. Demecillo blended with reliable Ara Galang, kinetic Dawn Macandili, savvy Kim Fajardo, beast-mode Aby Maraño and feisty Mika Reyes to bring F2 to the title in Game Three.
“May mga set na ginamit ko namin halos lahat galing sa kakatapos lang na UAAP. Noong una may mga unforced errors na nakikita naming nangyayare kapag hindi mo kilala ‘yung kasama mo sa court. Noong pinasok namin ‘yung mga magkakampi, makikita mo ‘yung improvement sa laro,” de Jesus said.
With a career already filled with a lifetime’s worth of accolades, de Jesus relishes the thought of handling the National Team program once again.
“Ang National Team kasi, responsibility ‘yan. Kung mabibigyan ulet ng pagkakataon, siyempre pagtutuunan ko ‘yan. Pero ngayon mag-eenjoy muna kami sa panalo namin,” the now PSL champion coach closed.