MANILA, Philippines – UAAP women's volleyball Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Valdez admitted that the Ateneo Lady Eagles initially had problems understanding their coach, Anusorn "Tai" Bundit.
The Thai coach knew very little English, but this did not deter him in steering the Ateneo squad to its UAAP title victory against the De La Salle Lady Spikers.
“’Yung una po talaga sobrang medyo nahirapan din kami kasi, gaganun lang siya (imitates Bundit's language), hindi po siya makasabi ng Ingles. Basic English lang po ang alam niya,” Valdez said in an interview with Anthony Taberna on Tapatan ni Tunying (TNT).
“After a while, nasanay na kami, ‘pag sinabi nyang ganun alam na namin.”
Bundit took over the coaching reins after Roger Gorayeb decided to call it quits to focus on training the San Sebastian volleyball team before the 76th season.
Under Bundit, the concurrent coach of Thailand’s Under-16 women’s volleyball team, the rookie-laden Ateneo squad went through brutal training sessions that had the Lady Eagles practicing twice a day with no weekly break.
“Every morning conditioning training, tumatakbo po kami sa oval... sa hapon, more on techniques and strategy, blocking. Everyday po yun, walang pong day off,” said Valdez.
The move paid dividends, as the “Strong Heart” coach was able to lead the Lady Eagles past the Adamson Falcons and the National University Lady Bulldogs in the stepladder semifinals.
In the finals, they met an experienced La Salle squad that already won three straight championships and carried a thrice-to-beat advantage owing to their 14-0 sweep in the eliminations.
Ateneo won, 3 games to 1, denying fancied Lady Spikers a record fourth league championship.
"After how many 30 years? Na unexpected pa ang pagkakuha namin ng championship trophy, syempre malaking pride po and sobrang, feeling ko lang, proud po yung school, ‘yung community sa na-achieve ng women's volleyball [team]," said Valdez.