After two months, almost 50 hours in the diamond, countless hours of practice, and 12 games, De La Salle University Green Batters ace Kiko Gesmundo was rewarded with three trophies and recognition. He was the season’s Best Slugger, the Home Run leader, the Best Third Baseman, and the UAAP Season 80 Most Valuable Player.
But still it felt empty.
Despite entering the Finals as the top-seeded team with a 9-1 record, Gesmundo and the Green Batters fell to the Adamson University Soaring Falcons in two lopsided games.
So even with all the individual accolades, Gesmundo could not hide his frustration.
“Mas maganda maging champion kaysa makakuha ka ng individual award eh. Kasi makikita mo yung team mo na nagpapakahirap tapos ikaw lang makakakuha. Hindi naman sa hindi ako masaya, masaya rin,” Gesmundo shared.
“Pero mas masaya yung makukuha niyo na sama-sama kayo, konti lang makakakuha. Iba talaga ang feeling kapag nagcha-champion.”
Gesmundo was a highly-touted recruit back in the 77th season of the UAAP. A standout from the famed Marist School program in Marikina, it was expected of him to deliver much, and immediately. However, injuries plagued him year in and year out and hampered his potential.
That is why during the off-season for Season 80, Gesmundo sought the advice from one of his teammates: Season 79 MVP Iggy Escano.
“First year ko, pumunta kaming finals, injured ako. Second year, nag-champion, injured ako. Third year ko, injured rin, kaso ‘di naman umabot,” Gesmundo recalled.
“May kulang eh. Bakit lagi akong injured sa Finals?
“Si Iggy nag-MVP. Sumama ako sa kanya, ‘Iggy, ano ba ang kailangang gawin?’ Nagtulungan kami. Sige, ganito. Gawin natin ang workout. Hanggang sa buong team na ang sumasama,” Gesmundo shared, paying tribute to his teammate. “Yun yung nagbigay ng push sa amin — na hindi lang si Iggy ang kaya gumawa noon. Malaki rin yung pasasalamat ko ka Iggy na tinulungan niya yung buong team, na hindi lang para sa sarili niya eh.
“Sinama niya kaming lahat sa pag-angat.”
A season full of promise ended with just silver. And one of the antagonists of their story was Jerome Yenson, Adamson’s ace, who was able to write his Cinderella story.
But instead of looking at Yenson with spite, Gesmundo chooses to look at him as an inspiration. Just like Yenson, he hopes to have that fairy tale ending come next season.
“Next year, last year ko na. Nakikita ko na, lahat yun eh. Nabigo kami eh. Una, noong rookie year ko, shit, first time ko sa UAAP. Tapos ambilis lang pala eh,” he reflected.
“Ambilis lang ng limang taon sa UAAP, pag gising mo, last year mo na. Wala na akong sasayasangin na araw.
“Kaya paghahandaan namin ang last year ko katulad ni Jerome. Nakita ko yung puso niya, gusto niya talagang kuhain to,” he asserted.
“Marami kaming natutunan this season na puwede naming dalhin next year. Para kami naman ang laman ng kuwento.”
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