Unfazed UST stars believe NU is ‘beatable’ ahead of UAAP men’s volleyball Finals clash
MANILA, Philippines—Josh Ybanez and GBoy De Vega want University of Santo Tomas to show no fear against unbeaten defending champion National University when they kick off the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball Finals on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Golden Spikers are returning to the finals for the first time in 11 years against the well-rested Bulldogs, who swept the 14-game elimination round.
Game 1 of the best-of-three title series is set at 2 p.m.—the lone UAAP volleyball match of the day.
Standing in the way of the young UST team are NU’s former national team players Joshua Retamar and Nico Almendras under four-time UAAP champion coach Dante Alinsunurin, who haven’t dropped a match for 32 consecutive games dating back to the opening day of Season 81 in 2019.
But Ybanez, a strong contender for the MVP and top rookie award, is unfazed against the Bulldogs, who swept them in the elimination round and are seeking a third straight crown.
“Alam po naming kaya namin sila and they are beatable. Natatalo din sila and of course, kailangan namin pagkatiwalaan yung sistema ng coaches namin,” said the rookie sensation after eliminating FEU in the stepladder semifinals on Sunday. “Tatapangan pa namin lalo parang gawin namin inspirasyon yung mga talo namin sa kanila nung elimination round para mas pagigihan and pagsikapan pa namin sa Finals.”
(We know that we can (win against them) and they are beatable. We have to trust the system of our coaches. We have to be braver and use our losses in the elimination round as inspiration for us to work harder and play better in the Finals.)
De Vega, who led the balanced attack of UST with 16 points, hitting 14 of his 29 spike attempts and firing two aces in their knockout semis game against FEU, has the same mentality as Ybanez.
“Yung mentality namin is no team is unbeatable kahit kami natatalo kami so all the more reason para magtraining kami and mas intense at saka mas marami pang dapat pagaralan para pagharap namin sa NU wala na kaming excuses,” De Vega said. “At least pagharap namin doon masasabi namin na ready kami pageensayuhan pa ba namin”
(No team is unbeatable. That’s our mentality. Even our team loses so more reason for us to train harder and show more intensity. We still have a lot to learn and improve so there are no excuses against NU. We have to be ready.)
UST coach Odjie Mamon and wing spiker Jay Rack De la Noche will return in time for Game 1, coming off the men’s national volleyball team’s fifth-place finish in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, which ended on Monday.
UST is eyeing its first crown since Season 73 in 2011 when it completed a historic “four-peat.” NU is also gunning for its fifth overall as well as the men’s program’s first-ever season sweep.
The Golden Spikers and Bulldogs collide in a championship series for the first time in the Final Four era.