Through her five years with Ateneo, Denden Lazaro earned the nickname the “Iron Eagle”.
Fans fondly called her that for her incredible pain threshold. Aside from the everyday wear and tear of being a libero, Lazaro played through various injuries and still maintained her high level of play that led to two UAAP championships.
Now, four years removed from college, Lazaro again drew from that fighting spirit. A day before her Petron Blaze Spikers’ do-or-die Finals match, Lazaro came down with the flu.
Visibly worn, Lazaro still soldiered on and delivered a stellar line that helped Petron vanquish F2 Logistics for the 2019 Grand Prix title.
“It was a do-or-die game. I didn’t want to die.”
This was also Lazaro’s first championship since 2015, when she played with PLDT in the Shakey’s V-League.
“Siyempre, masarap sa pakiramdam. Nabunga ‘yung hard work and sacrifices namin,” she shared, adding that, although they dominated much of the elimination round, Petron went through a lot to maintain their level of play.
“It was really hard. It was a very long season. We had to take care of ourselves, stay healthy all throughout. The seventeen wins we racked up en route to the Finals, it wasn’t easy. All the teams gave us a good fight, especially F2 in the Finals,” added the 5-foot-5 defensive specialist, who played for the upstart Cocolife squad for two years.
“Mahirap siya, pero you have to will it, you have to want it more. You have to overcome it.”
After again getting a taste of a title, Lazaro wants to maintain this feeling.
“Lahat ng paghihirap talaga nagbunga. I mean, ang hirap talaga ng pinagdaanan namin, pinagdaanan ko to get to this point. I’m really thankful for everything.”