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Return to the Big Dance a ‘great feeling’, says Gonzalez

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Despite settling for a silver medal in the recently-concluded University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 Table Tennis Tournament, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Women’s Table Tennis Team’s Head Coach Noel Gonzalez feels nothing but proud of his team’s achievement.

“Talagang napakasaya,” said Gonzalez, whose Women’s Team claimed an 11-3 win-loss record and successfully ended their four-year drought in Finals appearances.

The last time the Lady Tamaraws were on top of the podium with gold medals around their necks was during their four-year reign in Seasons 70, 71, 72, and 73, but Season 73 proved to be their last. It was all downhill for FEU over the next years, though they settled for third place last Season 77.

“After four years na nag-champion ‘yung Women’s Team, ‘yung material na nag-champion, sabay-sabay nagsi-graduate. So ang hirap na kulang sa player. Pero ngayong nakabalik na kami [sa Finals], talagang napakasaya,” Gonzalez added.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Return to the Big Dance a 'great feeling', says Gonzalez

All the other UAAP schools had beefed up their respective teams, according to Gonzalez, which heightened the competition even further, so he was impressed that the Lady Tams were able to play in the Finals despite the level of opposition.

“Nag-level up ang skills ng ibang schools. Dati mabibilang mo lang, ngayon lahat ng schools, nag-improve,” Gonzalez stated. “Nakakatuwa na nakapaglaro ang Women’s Team sa championship. Sobra-sobrang blessings ang ibinigay ni Lord, kaya nagpapasalamat kami,” he added.

Gonzalez credited the squad whom they faced in the Finals, the De La Salle University Lady Archers, but was still proud of the feat his young Lady Tamaraws – composed of Rose Jean Fadol, Reigean Gabutin, Jasmine Jaro, Shamiela Pineda, Lyndel Sellado, Shobie Siachua, Fatima Soya, and Josephine Talaya – pulled off, having fought to the very end.

“They [La Salle] are deserving to win this, dahil talagang napakalakas nila. Pero I’m proud to say na ginawa ng Women’s Team ang lahat makapunta sa Finals,” he said.

Now that the season for Table Tennis has concluded, Gonzalez has his sights set on next season, and singled out the players who could have an impact and contribute highly to Season 79’s efforts.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Return to the Big Dance a 'great feeling', says Gonzalez

“Si Gabutin, ‘yung performance niya ngayong season, talagang promising. May potential din siya maging player ng national team,” Gonzalez said; he clearly has high expectations for the rookie. “Natutuwa ako dahil ipinakita niya ‘yung pagiging true-blooded Tamaraw. Minsan, coming from behind, nakaka-recover pa siya. Hindi siya gumi-give up. Nandoon ‘yung fighting spirit niya. Kaya I think by next year, mas mag-iimprove pa ang skills niya.”

Gonzalez also sounded out some veterans who have the artillery to send FEU back on top next year.

“Sina Rose Jean [Fadol] at si [Shamiela] Pineda, nand’yan pa ‘yan. Ayang dalawang yan ang key players ng team, plus si Gabutin. Tingin ko mas kailangan pa mag-improve ng skills nila through hard work and more training.Walang imposible na makarating ulit kami sa championship next year, sa 79th Season. Hopefully,” Gonzalez concluded.

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Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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