UAAP: UST’s Kungfu Reyes impressed by ‘best coach’ Tina Salak
MANILA, Philippines—For University of Santo Tomas coach KungFu Reyes, if there is a Coach of the Year award in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament, it should go to his former Army player-turned-Far Eastern University mentor Tina Salak.
Reyes on Sunday steered the Tigresses past Salak’s Lady Tamaraws, 26-24, 22-25, 25-16, 25-23, in a win that secured a Final Four spot for UST and ended FEU’s semifinal hopes.
“You can give the best coach to Tina. For me, she is the best rookie coach. She had time to prepare but it wasn’t easy. They played well, the way they handled everything. At least they are on the same page with her players,” said Reyes in Filipino.
“Kodus to all coaching staff, especially coach Tina, who once upon a time was my player and her assistant Joanne (Bunag). I’m happy for them, especially with their holistic approach to the team. They help them rise from the ashes,” he added.
Salak, who turned a 1-13 Lady Tamaraws from last season into the final team to be eliminated in the Final Four race with a 6-7 record in fifth place, expressed her gratitude to Reyes and the coaches she faced this year.
“I’m thankful because the coaches have been commending the outcome and journey of our team this season. Coach KungFu is one of my inspirations. I took pride going up against him because I used to play under him,” said the rookie FEU coach in Filipino. “All the coaches this season taught me huge lessons like coach Jerry (Yee) and coach Shaq (Delos Santos). They motivated me to do my job well here in FEU.”
But for the former UAAP MVP and champion, her biggest inspiration is to pay it forward to FEU.
“Of course for FEU, I will do everything to live up to the legacy of the school. Whatever it takes and anything for FEU, I will give my service,” she said.
Although it was a heartbreaking loss for the Lady Tams, Salak said their performance against the Tigresses was “flattering” as she was reminiscent of her time as a player during the FEU-UST rivalry.
“Going up against UST gives me flashbacks during our time. I want how the crowd supported both teams with respect,” Salak said. “I saw how UST respected FEU and I wanted how my team was challenged. I really asked my players to win it for me because it’s a different feeling to play against UST, especially during our era. Both teams were very commendable.”
Despite the loss, Salak hopes to end their season with a 7-7 record as they battle the Final Four-bound Adamson on Sunday next week at FilOil EcoOil Centre.
Reyes said “it may not be today for FEU but it proved to be a threat in the UAAP” for the next seasons to come.