Rhena Itesi’s father flew from Congo to watch his daughter play her final game with National University last Saturday.
And the 23-year-old was glad that someone from her home was there to witness her make history.
“As I said, last year I was jealous when I saw Ria Nabalan and Jhianne Layug [receive] shirt[s] and this year I got mine,” said the 23-year-old, referring to her own 80-0 shirt.
However, it was bittersweet for Itesi as well.
For the first time in four years, the 6-foot-4 Itesi did not have her frontcourt-mate 6-foot-5 Jack Animam on her side.
Animam fractured her right orbital bone during the 2019 FIBA Women’s Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in New Zealand.
And she was emotional while she and Animam videochatted before the game.
“She messaged me before the day before the first game. She said, ‘I know that you always got my back but you can do it without me.’ I was crying. I was really crying. We did a video call, I couldn’t even look at her because this is my first championship to play without Jack,” Itesi shared.
“Because every time I played the championship, it’s always like when I’m scoring, she shout[s] at my back like ‘Rhena, you score I got the rebound.’ And when she was scoring, I’m getting the rebound. It was always like that.”
And so in Game Two, Itesi played inspired basketball, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals to help NU take a dominant 66-54 win over UST for the school’s sixth straight crown.
It was a perfect end to her six-year odyssey from Congo to the Philippines.
“I’ve been here for like seven years. Two years I didn’t play then five years. But I haven’t been supported the way they supported me this year, especially this championship. Everyone was at my back. Everyone was like, ‘Rhena you can do it’,” she said.
“It just made me want it more. And I wanted this six-peat.”
George Floyd incident hits home for Chris Ross
PBA Board approves Columbian’s transfer to Terra Firma
MPBL team owners will wait for COVID-19 vaccine before resumption, says Duremdes
PBA Board upbeat IATF will allow clubs to practice
REPORT: Jalen Green recruited Kai Sotto to join him in G League
Letran to downsize athletics operations, withdraw in nine NCAA events — including volleyball
ABS-CBN S+A goes off air
Stats Don’t Lie: Aldin Ayo and the power of the three-ball
Barangay Ginebra reunite in SMC HQ, pack PPEs for frontliners
Makati survives Ablaza injury, San Juan to force MPBL North Game Three
Robles, Custodio take over Basilan, lift Davao Occi to MPBL South do-or-die
Collado’s clutch swat completes Basilan’s conquest of Davao Occi in MPBL South Finals
- ESports3 days ago
Defeating ONIC PH was nothing personal for Greed_ just business
- ESports2 days ago
Jaypee had extra motivation to lead Sunsparks — his newborn daughter
- Basketball5 days ago
Fan of college game, Tim Cone says Kai Sotto situation is unique
- Basketball5 days ago
Jeff Cariaso sees young Kobe in Jalen Green