La Salle and Ramil de Jesus were fixtures in the early years of the Shakey’s V-League.
Though seen as a warm-up for the collegiate wars, the games of the league back then were competitive. And the V-League was the battleground for La Salle’s battles with UAAP rival University of Santo Tomas and NCAA’s San Sebastian College-Recoletos.
La Salle ran roughshod during the first three years of the V-League, winning three straight conferences — conquering both conferences of Season Two, then taking the only tournament of Season Three.
The Lady Spikers continued to compete in the V-League until 2008.
So what happened between La Salle and Ramil De Jesus and the V-League?
La Salle decided to sit out the first conference of Season Six since some Lady Spikers were recovering from injuries. The tournament was from April 19 to June 16, 2009.
The V-League invited the Lady Spikers for the second conference, which opened its curtains on October 13 of the same year. La Salle accepted the league’s invitation to join.
Six days before the tournament began, though, La Salle withdrew from the tournament. Apparently, it earned the ire of league commissioner Tony Boy Liao.
“They (coaching staff of La Salle) just texted us at the last minute telling us that they won’t join,” Liao said in a report by Manila Bulletin that had the headline ‘La Salle banned from V-League after last-minute pullout’.
“We don’t know the reason for their withdrawal, but it’s not good.”
Liao, a former team manager of the Lady Spikers, went on to say that the league was thinking of banning La Salle from the league.
“Hindi na namin sila hahabulin,” Liao continued.
“That’s the end of their participation and I think we will ban them. Baka ganun na talaga ang mangyayari.”
La Salle has yet to compete in the V-League since then. Ramil de Jesus was never seen on the V-League’s taraflex as well.
The comeback that never was
In 2015, the V-League claimed it had invited then-UAAP women’s volleyball champion La Salle to join that year’s Collegiate Conference. The league even pencilled the Lady Spikers as one of the 12 varsity teams in the league.
But De Jesus told SPIN.ph that no invitation arrived at Taft Avenue.
“Hindi ako naka-reply (sa text) kasi kako baka may invitation galing sa Sports Vision tapos dinala sa office… Pagdating ko doon, wala namang invitation, walang black and white na dumating sa office,” said De Jesus.
“Even ’yung director namin, wala namang nababanggit (about invitation). Sabi ko, ‘Eh ‘di wala. Wala tayong dapat sagutin dahil wala namang dumating na formal invitation.’ Kaya tahimik ang La Salle.”
The decorated head coach went on to disclose that injuries forced the Lady Spikers to withdraw from the league back in 2009.
“Hindi nila naiintindihan na kung nag-advice ’yung doktor na anim sa players mo injured, ano ang gagawin mo? Ipipilit mo?”
When asked about being “banished” by the V-League, De Jesus had this to say:
“Quoted naman sila doon.
“Naka-dyaryo pa ’yun. Hanggang ngayon, hawak namin ’yung diyaryo,” he said, citing the Manila Bulletin story.
“Actually, sinabi ko lang na mag-public apology. ’Yun ang hinihingi ng mga managers namin noon,” continued De Jesus, as La Salle’s team manager back then was Raffy Villavicencio.
“For the record, there is no ban on any team.
“Our league is an invitational tournament. We sent out invitations. Also for the record, every year, we have invited De La Salle to participate,” he said during a Philippine Sportswriters Association session.
To prove his point that La Salle was not banned from his league, he cited that the Green Spikers have always took part in the Spikers Turf — another league he owned.
When asked about the public apology La Salle’s managers were asking for, Palou replied:
“We never said La Salle is banned. Why should we apologize?”
La Salle respectfully declined the invitation to join the Collegiate Conference afterward.
Finding success on different roads
Since 2009, the Lady Spikers have used either the PVF National Inter-Collegiate Volleyball Tournament or the University Games as their preseason to the UAAP.
La Salle has won six more UAAP women’s volleyball champions since then.
For his part, De Jesus also coached PSL clubs Air Asia Flying Spikers in 2014 and Meralco Power Spikers a year later. He eventually found a home in F2 Logistics Cargo Movers — a team he steered to five PSL championships.
The Shakey’s V-League, on the other hand, became the Premier Volleyball League in 2017 after forging a partnership with ABS-CBN S+A.
In 2018, Villavicencio put up Petro Gazz in the PVL. The Angels won the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference.
In 2020, the PVL finally agreed to turn professional. Eventually, PSL teams Cignal, PLDT, Chery Tiggo, and Sta. Lucia jumped ship to the PVL.
The only PSL team remaining? De Jesus’ F2 Logistics.
With F2 Logistics as the only team left in the PSL, fans have clamored for them to be that 12th team. And they let their voices be heard with the #LetsMoveNow campaign.
When asked about F2 Logistics, Palou shared that he has yet to talk to team owner Efren Uy or team manager Hollie Reyes. After all, it would be unethical for him to start talks with a team that is still a member of the PSL.
“No, no, they have not. They have not tried to call or try to talk to me. I have also not called them because I don’t want to appear [like] I’m pirating the teams of the other league,” said Palou, sharing that it was the officials of PLDT, Cignal, Sta. Lucia, and Chery Tiggo who first talked to him about transferring.
“So if they wanna talk to me, I’ll talk to them. But I’m not gonna go out of my way and say and ask them to transfer to my league, ‘di ba? I want them to do that of their own volition.”
It’s been 13 years since a De Jesus-coached team has played in the V-League. But has time healed old wounds?