University of the East head coach Jerome Guhit drew up a game plan against University of the Philippines in an attempt to break into the winner’s circle of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Volleyball Tournament, Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Having noticed that the Fighting Maroons struggled to contain the middle blockers of Ateneo last Wednesday, Guhit plotted a strategy to exploit that weakness.
“Sabi ko naman kasi doon sa previous game ng UP, ang pumuntos sa Ateneo ‘yung mga middles nila,” the rookie head coach shared.
“So sabi ko, once na ma-activate na mga middles namin, madali nang balasahin ‘yung mga bato sa wing. Mas madali ‘yung trabaho sa wing kung activated na ‘yung middle kasama ‘yung blockers.”
And the one reaping the most benefits from that scheme was Lloyd Josafat.
The 6-foot-2 middle blocker feasted in the middle, pummeling huge blow after another for season-high 32 points. He was responsible for UE’s four-set conquest of the Fighting Maroons.
But Josafat was quick to deflect credit to his teammates.
“Siguro kung hindi rin dahil sa teammates ko, hindi ko mame-meet ‘yung thirty-two points,” the 20-year-old stalwart said.
For his part, though, Josafat had to block off the antics of the Fighting Maroons and the electric UP crowd.
“Ayun, lagi akong nire-remind ni coach na kalma lang kasi nga ‘yung UP, medyo may asar. Sabi ni coach sa akin, kalma lang ako palagi,” he said.
He then continued, “Ang sinasabi ko lang — ‘di lang sa sarili ko kung hindi pati sa mga kasama ko — na kumalma lang kami. One point at a time lang. ‘Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanila, kalma lang. ‘Wag tayo magpadala sa crowd ng UP.”
But the underlying force that fuels UE’s drive to reach greater heights this season is their burning desire to shed their cellar-dweller tag.
“Siguro mas gigil kasi ‘yun nga, mas bagong team kami,” Josafat said. “So sabi ko… Bago mag-start ‘yung season, sinabi na namin sa mga first year na magtulungan tayo para maiangat ‘yung UE, para maiba ‘yung tingin sa amin na laging nasa dulo.
“Ayun, magtutulungan lang kami lagi.”