Every season, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles play for their seniors. But for Javi Macasaet, this year is extra special.
This season, the Blue Eagles have at least five players pondering whether they will return for their final year, and three fifth-year players in catcher Dino Altomonte, infielder Radito Banzon, and ace pitcher Paulo Macasaet – yes, Javi’s older brother.
“We have seven players graduating. Every season naman, we always play for the seniors,” shared Ateneo’s shortstop, who is two years younger than Paulo.
Moreover, the Macasaet brothers, together with Banzon, were named the tri-captains of the team to start the season. Though leading a team together has been their childhood dream, Javi relishes playing with his brother for the last time.
“Growing up, we were always grouped by age divisions, separated by two years. The only time we got to play together was in high school, and that was just for two years,” recalled Javi.
“We were able to push each other during that time. Minsan nga nakakahiya because he was always in the gym while I’m chilling,” the national team stalwart continued.
“It’s really good for me because he always pushes me.”
After a heartbreaking year last season – where the Blue Eagles dropped to third place after a golden year in Season 79 – the Macasaets were able to steer Ateneo to the Finals once again. And it’s because of the team’s mantra that anyone can be leaders for the squad.
“Being captain just another title. Last year, we’ve been telling each other is that you don’t have to be named captain to lead the team. You can lead the team by example or by whatever way is possible,” opined the third-year Blue Eagle.
“Being titled captain is an honor but it’s not a necessity for a leader.
“Obviously, it’s special [for us]. Even though we are brothers, we have different personalities, which leads to different ways of leading the team. So I think the mix of me, my brother, and Radito [Banzon] bring different things,” he continued.
And Ateneo’s co-captain vows that he and his team will lay it all on the line for Ateneo and their seniors come Tuesday.
“This year, we really want it especially coming off a disappointing year last season. We knew coming this year that people were counting us out. We were seen as the underdogs. We understand that since one of our best players Marquis [Alindogan] leaving,” shared Javi, who went 3-of-5 at-bat for 2 RBIs in Game One.
“We just want to prove everyone else wrong and prove that we belong on the top.”