Everyone looks forward to seeing a glorious underdog story come to fruition. We saw it when the National University Bulldogs beat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws to end a 60-year UAAP title drought in 2014 and when the Letran Knights won the NCAA title against the San Beda Red Lions a year later.
Real life, however, doesn’t necessarily work in that way. The University of the East Lady Warriors knew they had their work cut out for them if they wanted to seize the UAAP Women’s Basketball Tournament title from the National University Lady Bulldogs.
“Ang saya eh. Sobrang saya kase nga from zero talaga kami,” commented Ruthlaine Tacula, who produced 25 points and 12 rebounds in her Game 2 outing for UE.
“Malungkot kase aalis na kami. Yung samahan kasi namin hindi lang teammate ang turing namin… tinuring din sila bilang second family.”
UE were seen by many as NU’s closest challengers, as the former had forced the latter to dig deep in their elimination round encounters. Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, the defending champions had an answer for every question thrown at them.
“Hanggang huli hindi kami nag-iwanan.
“Hanggang huli nagusap-usap kami na kahit ano mangyari, ibigay pa rin natin yung best natin. Kahit anong outcome ng game, masaya pa rin ako sa nangyari sa aming lahat,” shared Season 80 Mythical Five member Love Sto. Domingo.
Tacula, Sto. Domingo, Eunique Chan, Sensen Nama, and Alyssa Gayacao won’t be returning next season for UE because of graduation. While that may be a dampener, the seniors feel that the team is still in good shape.
“Next year kung sinoman ang maiiwan dito sa UE, alam namin na gagawin nila yung best nila,” said UE center Chan who dropped 19 markers. “Baon-baon nila lahat ng experience na pinagdaan namin ngayong buong season.
“Mawawala kaming beterano but still may matitira, may tatayo maging leader sa kanila.”
While the pain of losing in the finals is still raw for the Lady Warriors, who’s to say they can’t go one better next year to not only defeat the giant NU, but also get that elusive championship?
“Malaking bagay na kasi ito na nakapasok kami sa finals lalo na dun sa maiiwang players,” explained UE coach Aileen Lebornio. “Malaking inspirasyon sa kanila yun, yung maiiwan sa akin at yung dadagdag pa. Dati kung nahihirapan kami mag-scout, kumuha ng players ngayon may tumatawag na gusto mag-tryout sa amin sa UE.
“Yun yung malaking kakaiba ngayon sa amin.”