Looking back at UAAP Season 79, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons were the biggest enigma of the tournament. Starting off with a historic 4-0 record, UP fell off the rails and slumped out of Final Four contention.
Stories from the Lady Maroons’ side were also scarce as they distanced themselves from the media when the losses piled up. Now months removed from the tumultuous season, UP head coach Jerry Yee provided his take on their downfall.
The veteran head coach thought his team did not lack in physical preparation, but the Lady Maroons ultimately fell short mentally. After they ended a decade-long Final Four drought in Season 78, UP were saddled by the sudden pressure that came from all fronts to better their standing.
“Daming preparation, exposure, everything. Dami pang aspects eh; pe-pwedeng ang na-address mo lang is physical, puwedeng may problem ka emotionally or mentally. Siguro meron kaming mga hindi na-address na issues.
“I think we did our jobs physically, maganda namin ‘yung ginalaw in the first few games. Kaya lang merong mga personal issues na kumakaen sa team, external issues, pressures. We tried recovering pero siguro na-overwhelm din kami ng mga problems namin,” Yee explained.
Thrust into the most popular volleyball league in the Philippines, the fact that these girls are not just athletes but also girls figuring out the rigors of college and adolescence is often lost on spectators.
“The girls just came from a youth camp. Cheesy kami pero kailangan namin i-address ‘yung psychological and emotional problems,” added Yee.
“May mga ganoon talaga kasi hindi lang basta athletes ‘yan, student-athletes yan na nasa transitional point in their lives na they’re discovering themselves.
“May mga issues kami outside of the court. Kung practice at drills lang, skills-wise, siguro naman hindi kami masyadong malayo. Nagkaroon lang nang kaunting problems,” the Filipino-Chinese mentor shared.
Now competing in the PVL Open Conference, UP are showing major improvements, although their 0-2 record may say otherwise.
“I see improvement. Talo, yes, I know. Pero iba ‘yung hinahanap namin ngayon – if ganado kami maglaro, if may sense kami maglaro, if hindi kami basta-basta bumabagsak.
“Nitong second game nakita ko na hindi naman kami binugbog — sumasabay kami, nag-e-execute kami. ‘Yung maturity ang kulang, errors ang pumatay sa amin pero okay na ako doon. Malaki na ang improvement namin compared sa last game namin noong UAAP. I don’t know if makikita ng tao ‘yun, but I’m definitely satisfied,” expressed the Hope Christian High School mentor after the Lady Maroons lost to Bali Pure in straight sets Saturday night.
As for the criticisms thrown at him during the course of the UAAP season, Yee has opted to ignore the outside noise.
“Alam mo, we preach sa girls na you try not to listen and try to focus. So definitely, pag maririnig from other people, minsan makakalusot ‘yan, siyempre tatamaan ka kasi hindi naman nila alam ‘yung totoo,” Yee opined. “Pero, I guess, we just to work and focus past that. Maraming nagaganap sa team na hindi nila alam. Minsan papaliwanag mo, they’ll even say na gumagawa ka lang ng katwiran. So saan ka ba mananalo doon? Wala kang panalo either way.
“If nandito ka, you just have to work, move on, and ngayon nagta-trabaho kami for next season.”