UAAP: With more depth, La Salle eyes different outcome vs NU in finals rematch
MANILA, Philippines—La Salle parades a deeper bench when it tries to return the favor against defending champion National University in their UAAP Finals rematch beginning Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Malaluan, who got swept by the Bella Belen and the Lady Bulldogs in the championship series last year, believes the Lady Spikers flaunt more firepower this time around.
“Our bench is deep. Whoever you field in from the bench will contribute. Expect that from our team,” said Malaluan in Filipino.
Malaluan, who had a sensational rookie year in Season 84, has been playing a reduced role after suffering a knee injury prior to the start of Season 85.
In a Final Four showdown against University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday, La Salle showed its depth with Malaluan contributing nine points to spark the Lady Spikers’ 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19 win over the Tigresses.
“My mindset is to step up whenever the team needs me. Because I knew that we can beat UST in one game. It felt good that we helped each other inside the court and showed that we didn’t want to lose (in the Final Four),” she said.
Angel Canino, a bonafide star who is just in her rookie year, has been a big reason why the upcoming championship series could turn out differently.
After failing to beat NU in all of their four encounters last year, La Salle has flipped the script this season by sweeping the Lady Bulldogs in the elimination round without dropping a single set.
Malaluan said they just have to stick to the system of coach Ramil De Jesus, which has been effective all season long winning 14 of their last 15 games.
“We have to stick to the system because it has been very effective so we have to lean on it,” she said.
However, La Salle is facing an NU side, which has won seven in a row since losing back-to-back to the Lady Spikers.
The Lady Spikers are seeking to end a five-year title drought and bring home De Jesus’ 12th UAAP title.