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Canino thrilled to face Ateneo


‘Ateneo-La Salle is always a very good game. It could go either way when it’s Ateneo-La Salle (game).’


De La Salle University rookie Angel Canino is looking forward to experiencing the storied rivalry between her team and bitter nemesis Ateneo de Manila University.

The rising star will finally get a taste of the much-anticipated encounter when they battle the Blue Eagles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“I’m really excited about the match. Since before the rivalry has been one of the most exciting highlights of the season,” the prized freshman said.

The Lady Spikers are also staking their perfect 2-0 win-loss record in the 3 p.m. battle against the Blue Eagles eyeing back-to-back wins to improve their 1-1 slate.

“So we’re preparing well against them. And I know we’re ready,” Canino, who has been making a strong case for the Rookie of the Year award with an average of 15.5 points per game, said.

La Salle, which will also rely on veterans Jolina de la Cruz, Thea Gagate, Fifi Sharma and Leila Cruz on offense, is fresh from a 25-14, 25-20, 25-14, drubbing of University of the Philippines last Wednesday.

While supporters of both squads look excited and hyped up for the match, Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro tempers expectations.

“Do we still have a rivalry? I think it’s them and (defending champion National University) NU now,” Almadro said in jest following the Blue Eagles’ 25-17, 25-23, 24-26, 25-10, win over University of the East last Wednesday.

“But yes, Ateneo-La Salle is always a very good game. It could go either way when it’s Ateneo-La Salle (game),” he added.

“We’ll just prepare. We will be preparing and hoping to be better than our best heading to that game.”

Almadro, who has drawn criticisms from fans on social media for allegedly being too hard on his wards, has yet to win a match against La Salle since taking over the team in 2019.

Overall, Ateneo lost six straight games in its head-to-head against La Salle under Almadro.

“We understand that La Salle always has a tough lineup. They have good recruitment. They have the luxury of all the players they need and they want,” Almadro said.

Almadro also acknowledged that they are at a disadvantage compared to the Lady Spikers’ deep lineup.

“For us, we’re just okay with the players who are ready to play their best,” he said.

“We’ll give them our best, we’ll show them who we are. We’ll just have a proper mindset, have a good role, and fulfill our roles.”

The mentor is putting his faith in seasoned hitter Faith Nisperos, Vannie Gandler, rookie Geezel Tsunashima and AC Miner to get the job done and finally end Ateneo being on the losing end of the celebrated rivalry.

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