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Denden Lazaro relishes first Finals appearance since 2015

Denden Lazaro has gone through a lot in the last four years.

In 2015, Lazaro was a part of one of the best club teams ever assembled, joining Jaja Santiago, Alyssa Valdez, and Grethcel Soltones in PLDT to win two Shakey’s V-League titles.

Since then, the former Ateneo Lady Eagle has gone to med school, played for the National Team, and two different club teams.

Though her National Team campaigns were relatively fruitful, Lazaro only again experienced success in the club ranks this year, joining Petron.

Complimented by Lazaro’s implacable defensive work, the Blaze Spikers have rattled off 17 straight wins and are only two wins away from the 2019 PSL Grand Prix title.

The now-27-year-old is grateful she helped add to the Petron dynasty, which rampaged to its 13th PSL Finals appearance. Looking back at her last club Cocolife, the shift in expectations was an adjustment for Lazaro.

“It’s a process. It depends rin sa team, sa goal ng team. With Cocolife, it was a very young team so we tempered our expectations for two years,” she said.

“Here, joining Petron, the goal is always to win a championship given that we have the tools to win it all. ‘Yung hard work na ginawa namin preseason up until now nagbunga.”

Lazaro admitted that she was not even aware they had won 17 consecutive matches as the pressure ramped up from the elimination round to their semifinals sweep of Cignal.

“We don’t keep tabs anymore of the wins.

“Pagdating namin sa training, we always fix ‘yung kulang namin sa games and we just keep on looking forward. If you look back at the wins you accumulate, those are all in the past. We saw naman that semis was a different stage. Although we did beat them in the elims, iba ‘yung pinakita nila in the semis,” the 5-foot-5 defensive specialist shared.

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When asked, Lazaro even drew the similarities between her career path with that of fiance LA Revilla of PBA team Phoenix Fuel Masters.

“Nakakatawa nga. ‘Yung journey namin in our professional career — he came from KIA which was a new team in the PBA. Same as me with Cocolife na bago rin sa PSL, nag-struggle. Now, ‘yung team namin contenders. We’re really trying to help each other out,” she shared.

Revilla’s Phoenix earned the top seed in the PBA All-Filipino Conference, before being bounced in the semis by defending champion San Miguel — the Petron Blaze Spikers’ basketball counterparts.

“Kapag kailangan ng me time para maka-recover, binibigay namin ‘yun sa isa’t isa. If we need to talk to each other para lang maglabas ng frustration, we’re there for each other. It’s nice to be where we are now, but it’s also a huge challenge for us.”

Having racked up plenty of accolades from college to clubs, Lazaro is still seeking to improve.

“I don’t think I’m in my best form yet. I think that’s what’s pushing me to stay and to play. I wanna keep on improving myself and I know I can do a lot pa.”

Written By

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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