Jolina Dela Cruz’s job description for De La Salle University just expanded.
During her rookie year, the calling card of Dela Cruz centered around scoring. And she was more than reliable at that, leading the Lady Spikers in scoring with an 11.5 points per game average.
Dela Cruz was good at her job, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t do more.
So in her sophomore year, head coach Ramil De Jesus has given her a new role to embrace — to become a leader.
“Tine-train na rin po kami ni coach, kami ni Marrione [Alba] po, kasi kami ‘yung sophomore ngayon,” the 20-year-old Dela Cruz shared.
“Parang tine-train na rin po kami para next year as a leader.”
It’s easy to understand De Jesus’ intentions, though. Having eight rookies and three graduating seniors under his tutelage, the decorated mentor wanted to give players like Dela Cruz, who’s in her second year, the mantle of leadership.
Make no mistake, De Jesus isn’t forcing the duty on Dela Cruz. She wanted it in order to ease the burden on her older teammates.
“Gusto ko po kasing mabawasan ‘yung trabaho ng mga ate. Kasi siyempre, sobrang alam ko na nape-pressure sila,” she said.
“Parang ako na rin po ‘yung nag-aako ng ibang responsibilities para mabawasan din.”
And Dela Cruz wasted no time proving that she’s worthy of the huge responsibility.
In La Salle’s UAAP Season 82 opener versus arch-rival Ateneo on Saturday, Dela Cruz jolted her teammates to their senses after a second-set collapse.
“‘Yung second po kasi parang medyo nag-relax po kami,” she admitted.
“Sinabi ko, ‘Wake-up call! Wake-up call! Masyado tayong nagre-relax, bangon tayo ulit.’
She then continued, “Pagdating po ng third set, inisip namin na parang first set ulit ‘to, na kung ano ‘yung paghahanda na ginawa namin nung first set, parang ganun din nung third and fourth set.”
Dela Cruz’s call to action turned out to be effective as the youth-laden Lady Spikers came away with a four-set victory. More than that, she made her presence in scoring with 13 points.
All in all, this great start is all for La Salle’s redemption bid.
“Sobrang lalim po nung pinanghuhugutan namin this year. Siyempre, gusto naming bumangon. For Coach Ramil, siyempre ‘di rin po siya sanay,” Dela Cruz bared.
“La Salle ‘yung nasa jersey mo. Parang ‘di ka pwedeng ‘di aabot ng Finals.”
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