“Hindi naman siya superstar eh,” said University of Santo Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes about Golden Tigresses’ top spiker Sisi Rondina.
This, despite averaging 23.0 points per game. This, despite carrying the biggest scoring burden for the Golden Tigresses. This, because “consistent” is the more fitting term, according to Reyes.
Every now and then, he makes sure that Rondina’s feats will never get to her head, because she is called for a responsibility far greater than her personal performance — and that is to carry an undermanned UST roster. Without EJ Laure, Milena Alessandrini, and Rica Rivera, Rondina is left with most of the offensive — and sometimes defensive — burden.
“Siya yung heart and soul ng team, siya naman talaga ang tumatayo, wala namang iba.
“Tanggalin mo si Sisi, saan kami kukuha ng 22 points? 28, 27 points,” Reyes said.
True enough, with the way the 5-foot-6 spiker conducts herself during post-game interviews – all smiles, always downplaying her achievement, and always crediting her teammates, clearly she is still all about her team and never about herself.
Rondina has been the focal point of the game plan of opponents with the thinking that if you stop Sisi, you stop UST. But Reyes begs off this kind of thinking. UST are not a Sisi Rondina team. UST are a team with a cast of players with killer instincts as well.
Against the Adamson University Lady Falcons, Dimdim Pacres and Carla Sandoval chipped in 13 and nine points respectively. Both hitters were pivotal in equalizing their slate to 2-2 versus the Lady Falcons, and Reyes used this as an example to prove that the Golden Tigresses have other tricks up their sleeve.
“Yun ang hinahanap ko kay Dimdim, at least mag-double digit. Yun ang gitna namin, nagpaparamdam. So malaking bagay. Yung Carla Sandoval, tumulong. Malaking bagay,” he said.
Reyes and Rondina also candidly shared stumbling upon Adamson University coach Airess Padda’s statement about them and how that fired them up to actually work as hard as their ace.
“Pinanood namin yun eh.
“Sinabi ko na, ‘O papayag ba kayo d’yan?’ ‘Hindi, walang ganoon na mangyayari. Kinakailangan natin, team effort pa rin. And ‘wag nating payagan na ganun yung pinagsasabi ng iba sa UST.’ Yun ang sinabi ko sa [team],” UST senior shared.
Their teamwork will be tested once again as they try to halt the momentum of the perfect 4-0 National University Lady Bulldogs on February 25, and Reyes is positive that despite seemingly being the underdog, they will enter the court with equal footing.
“Sa tangkad, lamang sila sa amin pero sa puso, hindi naman kami magpapahuli siguro. May kanya-kanya naman din kaming pinaglalaban.”
And one of the things they are eager to prove and fight for is that there is more to UST than Sisi.