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HomeSportAvoiding Pepito a joke, but it’s no laughing matter

Avoiding Pepito a joke, but it’s no laughing matter


Avoiding Pepito a joke, but it’s no laughing matter

Bella Belen (left) and Detdet Pepito–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

On the eve of the championship series of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, University of Santo Tomas (UST) skipper Detdet Pepito joked about making a deal with friend and rival Bella Belen about not being targeted by the National University (NU) star spiker.

“Oh, we’ve already talked about it,” the Tigresses’ ace libero told the Inquirer, laughing, after practice at UST gym. “She won’t won’t target me.”

That might be more than just a punchline, though.

“Like you said, I am a spiker and she is a libero, [we’re opposites]; I know Detdet’s capabilities and that she can stop attacks so as much as possible, I won’t direct my attacks to her,” Belen, the first league Rookie-Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, said after putting NU on the verge of another title in its third consecutive Finals appearance.

“Before Game 1 started, Pepito was shown on the screen along with her stats and I am really proud of her,” Belen told the Inquirer when the dust cleared in the Lady Bulldogs’ 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 victory over the Golden Tigresses in Game 1 on Saturday.

Belen and Pepito share a friendship forged through similar starts to their journey.

Before going to different high schools, Belen and Pepito actually represented the same school and were also teammates for the National Capital Region in Palarong Pambansa.

Belen enrolled at NU Nazareth School and immediately showed her attacking prowess, winning Most Valuable Player honors in the girls tournament. Pepito was actually a hitter before she transitioned to being a libero after joining the Junior Tigresses, where she excelled as well.

Poyos doubtful

Belen has had much more success than Pepito though, with NU’s high school team making fodder out of the junior Tigresses during their title clashes. NU also has a UAAP seniors title to share with Belen in the roster while Pepito is in her first championship appearance.

Pepito spearheads a young squad that includes fellow homegrown stars Xyza Gula, Sophia Abbu, super rookie Angge Poyos, who suffered an ankle injury in the Game 1 loss after stepping on Em Banagua and Regina Jurado.

The Lady Bulldogs came in prepared for the series-opener and executed everything that they wanted to against the Tigresses, who are looking to end a 14-year title drought but would have to see others step up with Poyos’ playing status in Game 2 still questionable.

And NU wants to capitalize.

Belen and her teammates like Alyssa Solomon, Vange Alinsug, Sheena Toring, Lams Lamina and Erin Pangilinan will try to sweep Pepito and Co. on Wednesday.

Jokingly, Belen addressed her friend regarding NU’s game plan.

“You (Detdet) won’t get any balls from me because I know what you can do so I will limit what you can do,” the star hitter said in jest.

But then she added: “Detdet is their leader, she is the core of their team so we said that we need to avoid giving the ball to Detdet.”



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So there may truly be more, indeed, to the punchline. —WITH A REPORT FROM MAC DIONISIO, THE VOLLEYBALL REPORTER INQ





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