After Far Eastern University escaped Ateneo de Manila University in a five-setter, the Lady Tamaraws turn their attention to their next foe – De La Salle University.
And for FEU head coach Tina Salak, a familiar face would be on the other side of the net in rookie sensation Angel Canino.
Salak was one of the coaches who helped develop Canino during her high school days at De La Salle-Zobel, which saw the latter win the UAAP Season 81 Girls’ MVP.
In that season, Salak and the Junior Lady Spikers ended National University-Nazareth School’s four-year domination in the girls’ ranks.
“La Salle, syempre napaka-formidable team yan, ‘no? So sobrang taas din ng respect sa La Salle. And syempre hindi ko rin makakaila na yung players ko nandoon din,” said Salak, who also coached Alleiah Malaluan and Justine Jazareno in Zobel.
Despite being a key factor in Canino’s growth as a player, the setter-turned-tactician shared that a lot has changed for the 5-foot-11 outside spiker.
Even though there are still some moves that Salak can read, Canino is a new beast now at the collegiate level.
The Bacolod native led the charge for De La Salle’s 3-0 start, making 18 in her debut against UST, 13 against UP, and 23 in her first rivalry game against Ateneo.
“Actually two years na siyang wala sa akin, so malaki na yung improvement niya from high school to now under Coach Ramil (De Jesus),” admitted Salak.
“Siguro may mga alam ako, pero I think na-develop niya na yung sarili niya as kung ano siya ngayon.”
Salak though is aware that it should not only be Canino that should be stopped knowing how deep the Lady Spikers are.
Threats from the middle are Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma while also having Jolina Dela Cruz, Jyne Soreno, and Leila Cruz waiting in the wings.
“Ang kailangan na lang namin gawin doon ay kung paano siya mai-stop. Siguro hindi lang naman si Angel eh, buong La Salle,” said Salak.
“Hindi pwedeng magfocus lang kami kay Angel kasi may mga lethal weapon sila na gagamitin din namin yun para mamotivate kami. May weakness yan definitely may weakness yan so hahanapin namin yun.”