Maji Mangulabnan came into the Game Three of the PVL Collegiate Conference semifinals with extra motivation.
Knowing that her older brother Vince — a member of Ateneo Lady Eagles tactician Oliver Almadro’s staff — would be on the opposite side, Maji made sure to make him proud.
With two UAAP championships and several Best Setter awards in the collegiate and semi-pro ranks, Vince has carved his name as one of the best playmakers in the country.
But instead of seeing it as a distraction or a way to pressure herself, the young Mangulabnan used the presence of her sibling as an inspiration of what she aspires to be.
“Mas inspired ako today na maglaro kasi nandun siya sa kabila.
“Pero hindi siya factor na parang ma-distract ako, na may iba siyang tinuturuan, no. Like kahit papaano naman, kuya ko pa rin siya, so the fact lang na nandun siya, nai-inspire ako,” said the product of UST high school.
And it paid dividends, as Maji finished the match with 16 excellent sets while collecting four points. She also bagged the player of the game honors, as she steered the UST Golden Tigresses to a Finals berth.
Still, Maji shrugged off her brilliant performance, instead deflecting the credit to her teammates.
“Ngayon siguro medyo motivated ako kasi nabigyan ako ng tyansa na maglaro… And by the help of my teammates kasi hindi ko naman siya magagawa mag isa eh. Hindi ko magagawa kung ano yung nagawa ko ngayon kung wala ‘yung teammates ko,” Mangulabnan said.
“So ‘yun lang ‘yung factor naman in this game is lahat kami nag-tulong-tulong. Lahat kami nag-step up para sa isa’t isa.”
Now, as she strives to make a name for herself, the UST sophomore will always keep one valuable lesson that her decorated brother imparted.
“Huwag lang matakot mag-bato ng bola kahit anong mangyari. And hangga’t kaya mong i-dominate yung game, kaya mong mag-take lead para sa teammates mo, then ilaban mo lang hanggang dulo.”