It was late in the third set, and the National University Lady Bulldogs were sitting uncomfortably on a 16-14 lead against the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles.
In the set prior, Ateneo had beaten NU to every punch and knotted a heated match at one set apiece. NU rallied early in the third set but could not shake off the Lady Eagles.
Suddenly, right after the buzzer sounded to end the second technical timout, a familiar beat rang in the background. Filling the FilOil Flying V Centre upper box area were a gallery of NU’s cheerers and drummers.
Perhaps also hungry for a win against Ateneo, the drummers had come all the way from the Araneta Coliseum where the NU Bulldogs had been drubbed by the Blue Eagles, 96-83.
In any game, the Ateneo crowd would outnumber the National University faithful greatly. But with the drums banging out NU’s cheers, the FilOil Flying V Centre almost seemed like a Lady Bulldogs’ home crowd. Even the Ateneo loyalists were dancing to NU’s cheers.
And they helped the Lady Bulldogs muster a finishing push to put away the Lady Eagles. NU middle blocker Jaja Santiago recalls receiving a sudden jolt of energy when she heard the drums.
“Noong narinig namin sila, lahat kami nabuhayan talaga. Parang naramdaman namin ‘yung momentum namin,” said Santiago who scored 12 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs in their four set triumph.
The six-foot-five National Team stalwart recalls telling her teammates to stay composed against Ateneo — a team they’ve beaten in the PVL Finals and UAAP — the night before the match.
Having the drums there only helped them focus on scoring a pivotal win that keeps them undefeated in the conference.
“Kagabi nga, sabi ko sa kanila na kailangan tuloy-tuloy ‘yung momentum natin kasi every Ateneo time na ‘yung kalaban namin, para nafee-feel namin na parang composed na composed talaga kami. Sabi ko na ‘wag namin icu-cut ‘yun,” shared NU’s skipper. “Noong natalo kami noong second set then dumating ‘yung drummers namin, parang nabuhayan kaming lahat.
“‘Yung energy namin lumabas talaga.”