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One Game At A Time

Closing out is so very hard to do

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Anybody who has played in a championship series will tell you that the most difficult thing to do is to close out an opponent.
You may be leading the series 2-0 in a best-of-three or 3-1 in a best-of-seven. But there is absolutely no guarantee that you will bring home the title until you nail that victory that closes it out.
History and statistics may tell you that nobody in a 1-3 hole has turned it around, but it sure doesn’t feel that way when you’re trying to clinch just one more win to be champion.
You can ask Formula Shell or Petron Blaze in the PBA or even the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball. Ending a series with just one more win is never, ever that easy.
* * *
La Salle and Ateneo came face-to-face with the pressure of closing out a title last week in different UAAP sports.
La Salle’s women volleyball team, a juggernaut if there ever was one this season, looked well on its way to rolling over the Lady Eagles in the finals.
Why not, when the Lady Archers had the thrice-to-beat edge for sweeping the season and the advantage of being the most feared offensive and defensive squad.
Insiders felt that it would just be a matter of time before the Taft Avenue six would claim the championship. But again the pressure of closing out can rear its ugly head at the most inappropriate time, and La Salle lost the first match in four sets to Ateneo.
The Loyola six is really testing the waters of the maturity of its team and reaping the benefits of years of playing together in the UAAP and Shakey’s V-League.
Nonetheless, La Salle recovered quickly last Saturday and turned the tables against Ateneo in four sets as well. The Lady Archers snapped out of the doldrums in the third set to change the momentum of the match.
The women’s volleyball finale is now down to a winner take-all showdown this coming week.
* * *
Last Sunday, Ateneo was also ready to celebrate its first-ever baseball crown as friends, family and the school’s women’s softball team came out to cheer for the Katipunan squad.
But gutsy National University waxed hot early and scored four runs in the first four innings to dampen Ateneo’s impending party and won, 5-2.
The Loyola squad made three last-ditch efforts in the final three innings but left seven men stranded on base. The UAAP baseball finals is now also down to a final game showdown this week.
Whether it’s in volleyball or baseball or in any sport for that matter, championships are for those who have the mental fortitude to win the number of games needed.
The breaks of the game matter and so does a tad of luck. But winning is for those who want it the most and know how to close it out.


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