The battle to fight off tears during their post-game press conference was harder for the Adamson University Lady Falcons than their final UAAP match.
Head coach Airess Padda and her four Lady Falcons who played their final collegiate match — Jema Galanza, Mylene Paat, Fhen Emnas, and Jellie Tempiatura — were sincerely melancholic over what they could have achieved.
“It was bittersweet.
“They were playing to get into the Final Four today and that’s the team that I wish would’ve showed up in all the other opportunities we had. That’s Adamson volleyball,” confessed Padda. “I’m very, very, very proud with the way they showed up today. I know not making the Final Four was like a really, really, really big sayang. You know, heartbreaking.”
“Today I was like, you know you’re not playing UST. We’re playing the enemy that we’ve been playing the entire season, which is all of our fears, all of our doubts, the breaking under pressure, the non-consistency. All these things that people, when you think of Adamson this year, that’s what comes to mind. Whether you lose in five, you still lose, and that’s who Adamson has been this year,” Padda pointed out.
“And today, I was like that’s exactly who we’re playing against. It’s not just about the seniors, it’s about everyone on this team. Is this how you want to end your season? You have one more opportunity to defeat the enemy that’s beating you all-season. You have one more opportunity to do it,” the American mentor beamed.
“And man, they kicked the enemy’s ass today. The enemy we’re talking about is the stuff that I said, not UST.”
Each graduating player expressed the same sentiment — they had all the talent, but not the experience.
“Para sa akin ‘yung sobrang expectation namin, especially ako sa sarili ko, mabigay ang Final Four talaga. So, at some point, parang na-a-upset ka sa mga expectations mo parang nalo-low morale ka,” lamented Paat. “Sobrang ganoon ang nangyari sa amin after ng game sa La Salle so by that ang sinabi lang ng mg coaches namin at saka kami mismo na ilalaban namin ‘tong last game na ‘to buong puso lahat-lahat para man lang makabawi doon sa mga pagkatalo namin.
“Kaya buong puso naming inaalay ‘to sa Adamson community, sa mga supporters, sa management, especially sa mga coaches namin and sa team.”
More than anything, all four expressed their gratitude for experiencing Padda’s coaching. The quartet all went through a transition phase when Padda took over for Sherwin Meneses after Season 78.
Beyond skills, the ladies gained a strong female role model in their American head coach — a rarity in the local sports scene.
“Kahit na naglaro na ako sa pro, pagbalik ko sa Adamson nandoon pa rin ‘yung pagka-iyakin ko. Pero nai-inspire ako kay coach kasi sobrang napaka strong niya, kaya niya labanan lahat.
“So sa point ko naman kung ibang tao nga nagagawa ano pa ‘yung tulungan ko ‘yung sarili ko at meron ka namang coach na tumutulong sa akin. Nalalabanan ko na ‘yung feelings ko,” added Paat, who pointed out that Adamson’s all-female coaching staff in Angge Tabaquero and Cherry Macatangay will forever have a huge imprint on her.
“Si coach Air iba ang pagmo-motivate niya eh, hindi lang sa paglalaro kundi pati ang utak mo is kung ano ang gagawin mo outside the court maiisip mo minsan siya eh.
“In different situations ay si coach Air — though hindi naman volleyball ‘yung pinag-uusapan. Ako rin minold niya ako as a better person and as a better player and napapanaginipan niya (Paat) pa. Iba si coach Air lalo sa mental namin. Nasa limit ka na gusto ka pa niya i-push kasi alam niyang may ilalabas ka pa,” chimed in Emnas.
“Sobra ‘yung trust niya sa akin alam mo ‘yung kahit sobrang pasaway ko na nandiyan pa rin siya and never ko siya nakita na sumuko sa akin.
“Iba si coach Air ‘yung hindi mo siya (ipagkakait – Paat). Basta ba siyang coach kasi nakakapag open kami ng problems namin and doon sobrang laki ng natulong niya sakin lalo na nung na-injured ako never niya sakin pinaramdam na hindi ako belong sa team and talagang,” Galanza closed.