La Salle top gun, Ara Galang, may be done for the season, but La Salle remains alive and kicking.
For the fourth time since UAAP Season 74, La Salle once again collides with the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the championship round. The only difference this time, though, is that La Salle carries the underdog tag unlike their previous encounters, wherein they were the clear-cut favorites.
By mere glimpses of a casual fan, it can be easily concluded that a Galang-less version of La Salle cannot keep up with the torrid pace of the Lady Eagles. Yes, Galang is undeniably La Salle’s heart and soul as she can be seen carrying the team on her broad shoulders game in and game out.
Aside from being the mean offensive machine she is, Galang also takes care of the little things like chasing loose balls, calling out counterattacks and the like. Definitely, the Lady Spikers will miss her calming presence in the court.
Not so long ago, we could still remember one of the most passionate DLSU players that brought it all out on the court, regardless whatever the odds and dangers were. That player happens to be the ever-jubilant Abigail Maraño.
“With or without Ara kailangan natin pasukin itong Finals kasi wala nang makakapigil. Happy ako sa pinakita ng mga bata namin kasi ang tapang nila,” shared Maraño when asked about her thoughts on her former team heading into the Finals once more. “Never ako nag-doubt at lagi ko sinasabi sa mga bata na wala akong doubt sa team na ito.”
Also, she indicated that her former team must play with added fire given their ugly loss in last season’s championship round.
“For me accepting defeat is accepting improvement,” added Maraño. “Focus lang talaga for the team. Hindi pa rin ako nag-doubt [sa kanila] kahit may ganoong pangyayari, kasi ang sabi nga namin grabe ‘yung test ni Lord. Kung kaya mong mapanalo ‘yung Finals without Ara, [then] mapapatunayan doon na malakas kang tao at malakas ang team niyo.”
Ateneo’s thrice-to-beat advantage will surely be a daunting task for the former queens of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament, but Maraño believes that nothing is impossible. Noting that they were in the exact situation Ateneo was last season, they might as well savor the moment and rare opportunity.
“Ngayon, mas eager ang La Salle manalo since talo kami [last season], at may malaki kaming pinaghuhugutan for [the team] to do so much more.” Maraño strongly said. “So sa situation now ng La Salle, kung paano man nagawa ng Ateneo iyon, iyon din ang ginagawa [ng team] ngayon at dinodoble pa nila.”
Lastly, when asked about her fearless forecast for the Finals? She answered it in typical Maraño fashion.
“Panahon na para baliktarin natin ang mundo kasi nabaliktad na siya last year di ba? Babaliktarin natin [ulit] ang mundo,” she confidently ended.
The opening game of the championship round will be this coming Wednesday, 4pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Ateneo needs to win only twice to capture the crown while La Salle needs to rack up three wins.