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Lady Eagles fly high after Season 78

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The Ateneo Lady Eagles embodied the famous One Big Fight chant of Loyola Heights during their incredible flight in the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Badminton Tournament.

After the Lady Eagles finished the elimination round with a 5-2 record, they were forced to participate in the step-ladder setup since the UP Lady Maroons finished undefeated. They first went up against FEU, whom they defeated in the playoff match to determine the third seed.

Next for the Lady Eagles were archrivals DLSU. La Salle had a twice-to-beat advantage as the second seed and they only needed to win once to reach the finals. However, the Lady Eagles were determined to beat their archrivals and eventually won two straight ties to make it to the finals against the UP Lady Maroons.

But a fairytale ending wasn’t meant to be, as the Lady Maroons swept the Lady Eagles in the Finals. Still, despite the loss, Season 78 was an unbelievable journey for the Lady Eagles.

Ateneo coach Kennie Asuncion-Robles could only be proud of her players after their loss to UP. Four key players were lost to injuries this season, making a runners-up finish an outstanding achievement. Asuncion-Robles declared, “I’m very happy with the fight our girls put up for the championship. We managed to put up a good fight so very, very proud of them.”

Trixie Malibiran was one of the Lady Eagles injured this season, and she believed that her teammates played like they weren’t underdogs come the finals against UP. “Sobrang proud lang talaga ako. Wala akong masabi. I’m just really proud of them. Sobrang thankful kami”, added Malibiran.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Lady Eagles fly high after Season 78

Malibiran then joked that the Lady Eagles wanted to reach the Finals the hard way after their wins over FEU and DLSU. She later recognized the feat and couldn’t emphasize what a run they had this season. “Pero sobrang thankful. Sobrang blessed kami na kahit nag playoffs kami with FEU tapos La Salle twice-to-beat pa, sobrang happy lang talaga kami. Nagra-radiate lang yung joy namin to everyone. Sobrang thankful lang talaga naka-abot kami sa Finals against UP.”

If there was one player this Season 78 who deserved to end her season with a gold medal on her neck, it was Bianca Carlos. Now in her third playing year, the Season 76 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player was one of the pillars of Ateneo this season. Despite her star player status, Carlos believed that it was a team effort from everyone involved. She proudly stated, “Lahat talaga gumawa. Each and every one nag-perform nang maganda. Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila na huwag silang malulungkot kasi kayang-kayang bumawi pag ganun lang ang puso.”

“One game at a time” was the mantra Coach Asuncion-Robles instilled in the Lady Eagles, and Carlos credited this instruction because of its effectiveness. Carlos said their concentration was pivotal in their campaign to reach the Finals. She explained, “Mas nakakapagfocus ka. Mas happy ako na nagawa namin kasi mahirap na mag-focus mas lalo na ikaw yung nasa ilalim na paakyat ka. Underdog ka. Mahirap talaga gawin yun so sobrang happy ako na nagawa namin instructions ni coach Kennie. Sobrang happy ako kasi first na hindi kami ineexpect na maka-abot sa Finals.”

When someone watches an Ateneo UAAP game, it’s common to see a t-shirt stating: “Ateneo Will Fight Today!” While the loss in the Finals against UP gave Carlos and her teammates a bittersweet finale to the season, there was only delight in how the Lady Eagles embodied the slogan and maintained their honor. Carlos proudly said “Sobrang proud ako sa team ngayon. Ngayon masakit siyempre. Sino bang may ayaw ng gold diba? Sino bang ayaw mag champion? Pero ok lang kasi day-by-day pinakita namin na lumalaban kami. Compared sa sinong team, mas solid yung team namin. Masakit kasi hindi nakuha yung championship pero I’m still proud and happy of getting the silver.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Lady Eagles fly high after Season 78

Even if Season 78 ended in silver and not gold for the Lady Eagles, they have accomplished much in their pursuit for what they felt was rightfully theirs. Their coaches, relatives, friends; the members of the Blue Babble Battalion; and other members of the Ateneo community could only feel happy after they witnessed the Lady Eagles gave everything from day one up to the Finals.

Competing with a veteran coach and a more or less intact lineup for Season 79, only a fool would bet against the Lady Eagles going one better and bringing the UAAP Women’s Badminton Championship back to the blue side of Katipunan.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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