MANILA, Philippines — Lucille Almonte proved to be a steady leader for the rebuilding Adamson Lady Falcons, who saw a sudden exodus with the departures of Louie Romero, Kate Santiago, Trisha Tubu, and three others.
Almonte, one of the remaining holdovers, willed Adamson back from an 11-20 deficit in the fourth set before pulling off a 22-25, 25-17, 17-25, 27-25, 16-14 stunner over UAAP champion La Salle in Game 1 of the best-of-three series on Wednesday at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
“I always tell them to hang on and not give up until the game is over. We were also reminded that we have to earn every point,” said Almonte, who ignited an 11-1 run late in the fourth for a 22-21 lead before Red Bascon put on the finishing touches to force a decider.
When the crowd booed the referees after the off-the-block point by Bascon that put the Lady Falcons at match point anew, 15-14, the incoming senior spiker urged her teammates to stay in the game as rookie Bascon heeded her call and nailed another clutch attack to complete their come-from-behind win.
“I always remind them not to mind the crowd because they are not the ones playing. We have control of what’s inside the court so we have to stay focused,” she said.
The Adamson captain finished with 24 points including three aces to overcome La Salle led by Shevana Laput’s 30-point explosion.
Amid the departure of the Lady Falcons’ UAAP bronze medalist core following coach Jerry Yee’s removal from his post, Almonte is confident with the younger group including setter Angelica Alcantara, Ayesha Juegos, Lorene Toring, Nicole Ancheta, and Karen Verdeflor.
“Actually, I’m so happy because I never felt that some of them are rookies. I feel like all of them are seniors because every time I have demands, they will follow. It’s not hard to guide them,” she said in Filipino.
As they expect La Salle to do everything to force a rubber match, Almonte stressed that they have to work harder to close out the series in Game 2 on Saturday.
“Now that we won, we have to work harder. We all know that we committed a lot of errors. We have to double our efforts. We have to continue fighting until the end,” she said.
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