The Final Four cast is set in UAAP Women’s Volleyball with the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles leading the way followed by the surging UST Golden Tigresses, the defending champion DLSU Lady Spikers, and last year’s finalist the FEU Lady Tamaraws.
Before semifinals action starts this Saturday (May 4) on ABS-CBN S+A, LIGA, and iWant Sports, let us put the spotlight on the distinguished men in the sidelines that are behind the scintillating seasons of the tournament’s top four squads. As much as the players have given everything they have and left it all on the floor, so too have their coaches!
Let us get to know the individuals that have motivated, guided, and paved the way for the likes of stars like Bea De Leon, Sisi Rondina, Des Cheng, and Heather Guino-o to fight for the championship trophy in UAAP Season 81.
- George Pascua, Far Eastern University
Pascua was a former player for the Men’s Volleyball team of FEU and was teammates with volleyball legend, and DLSU head coach, Ramil De Jesus. As a coach, he won four titles for his alma mater’s men’s squad. His championship run continued in the semi-pro circuit where he notched three titles as a women’s volleyball coach. He rejoined the FEU program in 2017 and under his tutelage, the Lady Tamaraws seems to be on its way to bringing back FEU’s glory days as a UAAP volleyball powerhouse. After a return to the Finals in Season 80, his young team has another crack in the title, though they have to do it against league-leading Ateneo.
2. Kung Fu Reyes, University of Santo Tomas
Coach Kung Fu used to be a utility spiker for UST where he won three titles as a player. As a coach, he has handled a lot of stars in the juniors ranks before they became household names like Alyssa Valdez, Kim Fajardo, sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago among others, when he was an assistant to Francis Vicente. One of his best moments came in 2013 when he coached the Junior Tigresses to the title. Two years later, he took over the UST program that has seen a resurgence with the likes of Sisi Rondina, Eya Laure, Dimdim Pacres, and Milena Alessandrini. Will this be the year the Golden Tigresses romp back to the Finals with Coach Kung Fu at the helm?
- Oliver Almadro, Ateneo De Manila University
Coach O, as he is fondly called by his players, is one of the league’s best motivators on the floor. But that does not take away the tactical genius of Almadro who steered the Ateneo Blue Eagles to the Finals for five straight years after being a down-and-out program back then. He built the team to the powerhouse that it is now before taking the head coaching position for the Ateneo Lady Eagles following Tai Bundit’s exit. No one expected the Lady Eagles at the top of the heap at 12-2 entering the Final Four, but it is a testament to how much Almadro has shaped one of the youngest teams in the league into a formidable force. His success is not surprising as this former Letran varsity player had only the next guy in the list as his mentor when he started coaching.
- Ramil De Jesus, De La Salle University
The man needs no introduction at all. You want to have the best in Philippine volleyball? All you have to do is look at the way of Taft and just marvel at how Ramil De Jesus has built a volleyball empire at DLSU. He is one of the winningest coaches in the land with a 246-65 record. Not only that, he has 10 championship belts under his belt and a long line of stars who are proud to have been mentored by him. Manilla Santos, Maureen Penetranter, Desiree Hernandez, Chi Saet, Iris Ortega-Patrona were there when volleyball started to boom. Then De Jesus was armed with the likes of the towering Jacq Alarca, Michele Gumabao, Aby Marano, Kim Fajardo, Cha Cruz, and many, many more stars. Arguably, he has the best program in the country and his rings more than do the talking for recruitment purposes.
Catch these four gentlemen as they try to rally their ladies to victory in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament that starts this Saturday (May 4) with the Ateneo-FEU match at 4 pm. UST and DLSU will figure in a derby in the other match-up that will be played on Sunday (May 5), also at 4 pm.
Catch all the action LIVE only on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com and iWant Sports.
For more stories and news on the UAAP, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com