“Ganitong katangkad lang ‘yun oh,” Jigs Divino, a FilOil Flying V Centre bouncer, said while pointing to his lower chest. As you’d imagine, Divino is a pretty big guy.
“Ganyang katangkad lang si Ricky pero kung tumalon ‘yun, napakataas,” he continued emphatically, pointing somewhere around his forehead.
He was talking about Ricky Marcos, who has played in the San Juan Arena since he was in high school at the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Junior Altas.
During those days, the Arena bouncers, attendants, and maybe a few of the players’ parents were there to witness Marcos’ high-flying exploits.
Standing at around 5’5”, the Caviteño native used to explode over much taller blockers for highlight-reel attacks. During his final season with the Junior Altas, Marcos led his team to an NCAA title, bringing home the Finals MVP plum as well.
Now, Marcos has been grounded, playing for the National U Bulldogs. Recognizing that his lack of height would get him nowhere as a spiker in a loaded men’s volleyball field, the Cavite native decided to shift to libero.
“Sabi nga po ng mga coach, mahirap daw po talaga sa height ko kung magi-spiker daw ako. Totoo naman po ‘yun. Kaya talagang pinaghirapan ko ‘tong pagli-libero ko,” Marcos told Tiebreaker Times.
The Bulldogs are currently sitting in third place in the UAAP standings with a 7-4 record. Like his young teammates, Marcos has been trying to find his bearings as the season goes along.
Although libero seems like a simple position to navigate, one that requires Marcos to play just in the back row, anchoring NU’s passing and defense has been tough for the former MVP. He didn’t even know volleyball’s fundamental form.
“Sa totoo lang, wala naman po akong receive. Gusto ko lang po talaga rumeceive,” Marcos expressed. “Noong una nga po akong tinuruan nila coach, di ko po alam kung ano ‘yung first position. Lahat po talaga ng tungkol sa pagiging libero, sa NU ko lang natutunan.”
So far, floor defense and passing has dictated how well the Bulldogs faired. Their efforts to keep balls alive fluctuates from decent to terrible on a game-to-game basis, but they’ve managed to be more consistent in the second round.
NU’s incredible height helps in a lot of places but not in the back row, as their tallest players are most prone to silly passing fumbles.
Marcos knows he mostly has to cover for his teammates as best he can.
“Sabi nga po nila coach, kung kaya kong kunin ‘yung bola, ako na lang ‘yung kumuha kahit papunta sa teammate ko,” Marcos said. “Hindi ko pa po magawa lahat ng gustong ipagawa sa akin ng mga coach, kaya malaki po talaga pasalamat ko sa pasensya nila sa akin.”
Marcos has fully accepted his permanent role for the Bulldogs. He is the type of person whose spirits doesn’t go down easily, who always has a smile and a cheer ready for an erring teammate.
It’s been a long time since Marcos has tried to attempt a spike.
“Hindi na po talaga ako pumapalo. Nagagalit po sa akin si Kuya Vince (Mangulabanan). Baka daw po kasi masanay ako sa ganoon. Kaya sa lahat po talaga ng practice, puro depensa at pasa lang ang focus ko.”