UAAP: Coach Shaq grateful for another shot at title with UST

UAAP: Shaq Delos Santos grateful for another shot at title with UST

/ 08:49 PM May 10, 2024

Shaq Delos Santos along with the UST Tigresses coaching staff celebrate after entering the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament.

Shaq Delos Santos along with the UST Tigresses coaching staff celebrate after entering the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.met

MANILA, Philippines — Fourteen years after steering the University of Santo Tomas to a UAAP title, Shaq Delos Santos–this time, as an assistant coach–is raring to help end the school’s championship drought in the Season 86 women’s volleyball finals.

Delos Santos was the last coach to steer UST to a championship as his squad led by Rhea Dimaculangan and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas swept La Salle in the championship series of Season 72 for the school’s 16th title.

He found himself back on the Tigresses’ turf with his role as part of coach KungFu Reyes’ staff playing an instrumental role in the team’s return to the finals after five years.

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“I’m so happy because after how many years, I made it back to the finals and I’m very thankful to the school for giving me [another] opportunity to help the team and share my knowledge,” Delos Santos told Inquirer Sports in Filipino after UST dethroned La Salle in the Final Four last Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“I’m so happy for the players because of their efforts in practice. They really want to learn and execute every game. And of course, we thank the UST community and the managers for their support, which made a huge impact on the team in reaching this far.”

After leaving UST in 2011, Delos Santos spent the next four seasons from 2014 to 2017 with his alma mater, Far Eastern University as the women’s volleyball coach.

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The former Philippine women’s volleyball team coach returned to the Tigresses as part of Reyes’ coaching staff in 2020 but Season 82 was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. He coached the University of the Philippines last year but the team had a forgettable 1-13 campaign.

READ: UST coach says Ramil De Jesus gesture ‘like blessing to win UAAP title’

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This year, the stars have finally aligned in Delos Santos’ homecoming to UST, being part of Reyes’ “fantastic coaching staff” composed of PVL coaches, and developing the team’s young middle blockers Em Banagua, Bianca Plaza, Pia Abbu, and Mae Coronado.

“The coaching staff has a great relationship and as coach KungFu said all of us our equal here and we share the same respect for one another,” Delos Santos said.

Reyes said tapping Cignal coach Delos Santos, Rico De Guzman, and Robertly Boto to join him, longtime deputy Ian Fernandez and Galeries coach Lerma Giron helped the young Tigresses show maturity beyond years and pull off the biggest surprise of the season amid the departure of Eya Laure and key seniors 

“From the start, the composition of this coaching staff sends a message to the team that we take it seriously. And they can do it as long as they stick to the system, believe in the program, and believe in themselves,” the UST coach said.

In his return to the Finals, Delos Santos is hoping to win the championship when UST opens its title series against National University on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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“We will give our all and our 110 percent in the biggest fight of our lives,” Delos Santos said.

TAGS: UAAP Season 86, UST Golden Tigresses

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