NU star Bella Belen heaps praise at UST rookies
MANILA, Philippines — National University star Bella Belen lauded the young and gritty University of Santo Tomas rookies, who put up a gallant stand against the Lady Bulldogs in the knockout semifinal of the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Preseason Championship on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Before booking their ticket to the winner-take-all final on November 19 against La Salle, Belen and the Lady Bulldogs faced quite a test from the promising Tigresses sans Eya Laure.
The formidable NU side needed to recover from a second set collapse before pulling off a 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17 victory to overcome UST, which was led by the rookie troika of Xyza Gula, Pierre Abellana, and Regina Jurado.
“It was a great match against UST because even though they are rookies, we’ve seen that they are really fighters. They were not afraid and they just played their game with nothing to lose,” said Belen in Filipino after pouring in 24 points.
“They always play all-out. We’re looking forward to facing them again in the UAAP. We feel that if they will keep on training, they will improve and become more solid,” she added.
Last season’s UAAP rookie MVP said the Lady Bulldogs, mostly composed of Nazareth School standouts, used their familiarity against half of the Tigresses’ starting six were their former UST high school rivals like Jurado, Pia Abbu, and Dett Pepito among others as well as rookie setter Karylle Caasi from La Salle Zobel.
“Our previous games against them during high school helped us to win this match because we were a bit familiar with their game,” Belen said. “We’re just happy that we made it to the finals and we’re thankful because we have won every game as our training has been paying off.”
Clashing with La Salle in a one-game final, Belen said her team has no room for complacency as NU, which is unbeaten in seven games in the preseason, is eager to complete another perfect title run following its 16-0 sweep in UAAP Season 84, where it took down the Lady Spikers.
“We will use this weekend to recover and then we’ll start working and scouting our opponent. We have to study the things that we need to improve and correct like our errors. We were giving up a lot of errors so we have to address it,” Belen said.