This coming Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the De La Salle Lady Spikers and the Ateneo Lady Eagles will face each other once again in their much anticipated Finals rematch. It will also be the first time that skipper Ara Galang will play against the Lady Eagles since last season’s elimination round.
“Excited, siyempre. Pero for me naman, dadaan at daan kami doon [against Ateneo],” Galang said when asked about her thoughts heading into Saturday’s big clash. “So excited ako siyempre big game at alam kong magiging maganda ang laro.”
Currently sitting at second place in the standings with a 4-1 record, the Lady Spikers reminded everyone that they are still one of the elite teams in the league despite having a couple of bridesmaid finishes in the past two years. Featuring a deep mix of veterans and youngsters, La Salle was able to utilize that depth to their advantage and flashed an ability to deploy different kinds of rotations.
“Oo, for me naniniwala ako na mas okay kami ngayon, mas better and mas stronger,” Galang added. “Siguro lahat kami may contribution sa team, lahat kami may role na kaya naming gampanan.”
Moreover, the numbers indicate that La Salle is equipped with a highly potent offense and a steady defense. The Lady Spikers are currently ranked as the second best spiking team with a 35.18 percent success rate, the best blocking team with an average of 2.53 kill blocks per set and the best setting team with an average of 8.94 excellent sets per set. La Salle is also the best receiving team with an efficiency rating of 21.02 percent, the best digging team with an average of 7.71 excellent digs per set and the best serving team with an average of 2.71 service aces per set.
But setting the numbers aside, Galang believes that facing Ateneo will be the ultimate acid test for La Salle since it will gauge the team on how it will stack up against the league’s defending champion.
“Siguro dahil first game namin [against sa kanila], iyon naman ang basehan namin on how kaming nag-improve as a team. Siguro iyon lang talaga kasi round one pa lang kaya marami pang pwede mangyari in the future,” Galang stressed. “Pero iyon nga, ito ang crucial point para malaman namin kung nasaan na ang team namin.”
In addition, Galang also shared that her wealth of experience will come in handy in facing a well-composed team like Ateneo. Being a part of many unforgettable battles against them, she said the she is ready to embrace the responsibility of being a calming presence inside the court. After all, facing Ateneo is no easy task for any opposing team.
“Hindi naman siya mas magaan or mas mabigat pero kasi as a senior and a former captain, kailangan nandoon pa rin ang pagiging captain ko, pagiging senior ko,” Galang further remarked. “Kailangan mabigay ko pa rin ang contribution ko sa team kung paano ako makakatulong para manalo ang team.”
With Galang aiming to be a big factor against the defending champions, she also seeks to use this game as her own measuring stick if she is near her peak form since suffering a season-ending knee injury last season.
“Oo, siyempre iyon naman ang tinatrabaho ko at kailangan kong mameet. Feeling ko naman, magagawa ko,” she added.
Lastly, Galang closed that battling their rival school will always be about school pride. It will be always be a given whenever a La Salle-Ateneo match happens and at the end of the day, only one team shall stand stall.
“Siguro ‘yung rivalry nandoon na rin: ‘yung school rivalry. Parang big impact iyon and nandoon ‘yung pride so parang ang pinaglalabanan namin is pride.”