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Tiebreaker Times


Despite eligibility being in doubt, Umandal still helps out UST

Jau Umandal was hoping for one final dance with University of Sto. Tomas in the upcoming UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament.

Unfortunately, a possible return is looking bleak. He already turned professional when he played for Bani Jamra in the Bahrain League right after UAAP Season 82 was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That, however, did not stop the national team stalwart from helping out the Tiger Spikers. He volunteered to be part of the team’s coaching staff as they gear up for the upcoming collegiate season.

“He’s still hoping that he can play, but I think there was a ruling na hindi na talaga siya pwedeng maglaro. So, he volunteered to help with the team,” shared UST head coach Odjie Mamon right after they sealed their finals spot in the V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge at the expense of Ateneo de Manila University, Wednesday.

Mamon said that having someone like Umandal during scrimmages is a big help in terms of the development of his players. And that definitely showed when the Tiger Spikers dispatched the Blue Eagles, 25-27, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16, in the knockout semifinals at the Paco Arena.

“Siyempre, malaking bagay yun sa scrimmage. Yung nakakalaban ng mga bata is high level na player kaya malaking tulong din talaga,” said Mamon.

Aside from helping out in their training sessions, Umandal was also very hands-on during the game. He was even handing out instructions to up-and-coming spikers Gboy Dela Vega and Josh Ybañez in timeouts.

Ybañez – the hero for UST in their reverse sweep of Far Eastern University in the quarterfinals – finished with a game-high 24 points. He also had 16 excellent receptions and five excellent digs.

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Meanwhile, the ever-consistent Dela Vega added 19 markers.

With the win, the Tiger Spikers set a date with defending UAAP and Spikers’ Turf Open Conference champion National University in the finals.

Mamon said that he, Umandal, and the rest of the coaching staff will go back to the drawing board. They look to pull off an upset against the heavily-favored Bulldogs in the best-of-three finals, set to begin on Sunday at 10:00 AM.

“We’re up against NU. They’re very good blockers, good passers, and good attackers so everything is good [about them],” said Mamon.

“So we’ll just formulate a few tactics para ma-counter yung advantage ng kalaban and also iano ko lang sila, reinforce ko lang sa kanila na its okay lang mablock or madepensahan or mapaluan as long as babawi.”

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