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

Kungfu Reyes Ramil De Jesus UST Tigresses beat La Salle Lady Spikers UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Final Four

UST coach KungFu Reyes and La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus share a hug after the Tigresses beat the Lady Spikers in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball Final Four.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus respectfully declined an interview and asked his deputy Noel Orcullo to speak on behalf of the team but the decorated mentor did wish UST coach KungFu Reyes good luck ahead of the Tigresses’ UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball Finals stint.

La Salle’s title defense ended in the Final Four following a heartbreaking 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-7 defeat to UST on Sunday in front of 19,505 fans on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

De Jesus and the Lady Spikers were eliminated in the semifinals for just the second time in 14 seasons, losing to the same team, same coach, and even the same date exactly five years ago when Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure shattered their “four-peat” bid in Season 81 at the same venue.

UAAP SCHEDULE: Season 86 volleyball Final Four

The 12-time UAAP champion coach, who accomplished more than 300 wins in his career, remained gracious in defeat, encouraging Reyes to steer UST to a fitting finale.

“Yung kanina nung nag-shake hands kami mararamdaman mo yung sincerity nung pagbati niya sakin, Nagbibigay ng good luck sa finals. Parang binigyan kami ng blessing na parang ‘kunin mo na yung kampeonato,’” Reyes bared after completing a three-game sweep of La Salle this season.

After dethroning La Salle twice, Reyes cleared he never treated De Jesus as a rival, insisting that he is one of his many inspirations in his coaching career.

UST Tigresses coach KungFu Reyes UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Final Four

UST Tigresses coach KungFu Reyes celebrates during a victory over the La Salle Lady Spikers in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball Final Four.–MARLO CUETO/

“Sila na yung mga nilo-look up namin. Again, naglalaro pa ako jan sa UST, si coach Ramil na ‘to. So ang pakiramdam lang nito sa volleyball community parang tito ko na siya or parang tatay ko na siya. Masarap lang din yung feeling na alam mo na very humble si coach Ramil, the way siya i-treat yung mga junior coaches niya,” said the longtime UST coach, who will be making his second finals appearance.

De Jesus’ gesture will serve as an inspiration to Reyes as the Tigresses write the ending to their inspiring story.

READ: UST Tigresses dethrone La Salle, return to UAAP volleyball Finals

Reyes may have scored big wins over De Jesus in their recent duels but the UST coach hopes the legendary La Salle tactician will continue to bring out the best in the UAAP competition. 

“Nagiging mas pleasured ako na nakakalaban ko si coach Ramil. Sana magtagal pa yung nandito siya sa UAAP,” he said.

Orcullo, who spoke for De Jesus, admitted that UST was just too much to stop in their Final Four encounter but this heartbreak will make their team stronger next season. 

“Wala akong masasabi kasi yun lang talaga ang kinaya e. Hanggang doon lang, kaya yun ang naging resulta. Siguro, bawi na lang kami next year,” Orcullo told the reporters. “Actually medyo lumabas naman yung character nila and kaya lang, talagang kinapos.”

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Angel Canino is determined to bounce back from her heartbreaking sophomore year as the La Salle deputy coach bared that the players inside the team’s circle after the game, Thea Gagate, Maicah Larroza, JR Levina, and Gillianna Torres, have played their final UAAP game.

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