Ateneo de Manila University star netters Alyssa Valdez and Marck Jesus Espejo are both pondering on winning the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum for the third straight year.
For the 22-year old Batangueña, the award did not really matter compared to the sacrifices and efforts of her teammates during the games.
“Individual awards will not matter at the end of the day but it is really the end-goal of the team. But for each and everyone in my team, if given a chance, I would like to give them each an award,” said Valdez.
“If you would really see them during the training, they are the ones who do so much effort and sacrifices and they don’t ask for anything but just play. I really admire my team,” she added.
Ateneo rallied past De La Salle University, 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, in Game 2 held on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Valdez also received her fourth straight Best Scorer award with a total output of 243 points on 209 spikes, eight blocks and 26 aces. She also bagged, for the third-straight year, the Best Server award.
Espejo said that he is very thankful for the achievement.
A member of the national team, Espejo also received the Best Spiker and Best Server awards.
“I am so thankful because I got the award though I don’t think of it much,” Espejo told The Manila Times.
“What’s always in my mind is the gold medal. I always aim for the gold. What will I do with my award if we did not get the championship?,” he added.
With his explosive ground offense, Espejo steered the Blue Eagles to three straight finals appearance and a back-to-back championships.
“I want to dedicate this season’s MVP award to my family and to my school. This award, I think, is not possible without the help of my teammates and coaches. You would not get this [award]only with yourself. I also dedicate this to all our supporters who’s watching our game,” the 19-year old Espejo said.
Espejo said that he’s not keen on replacing their team captain Ysrael Marasigan, who is in his final season with Ateneo, “For now, they have not really chosen the next captain. But I don’t want to be, if ever. I am not a good leader—I am more of a good follower.”
“But if they will make me the next team captain, of course I will accept it whole-heartedly,” Espejo said.
He also commended the hard work of Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, for bringing out the best in them.
JEAN RUSSEL DAVID