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All good between Canino, Belen

ANGEL Canino of La Salle and Bella Belen of NU swear that everything is good between them following a tightly-fought UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball title duel. Photo courtesy of UAAP

There is no bad blood between De La Salle University prized winger Angel Canino and National University ace spiker Bella Belen.

The two rising stars may be fierce rivals inside the court as seen during their furious battle for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 women’s volleyball title but outside they are good friends.

In fact, they have high respect for each other after emerging as the only rookies to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

Belen cleared that there is no rift between them and what fans saw during their stare down contest and on-court antics during the best-of-three finals were just their emotions brought by their passion and adrenaline rush.

“I think the fans are the ones creating an issue (over our rivalry). What happened in Game 1, was all just part of the game. We’re not enemies because outside the game we’re all friends,” Belen said.

The two shared a warm hug following the Lady Spikers’ come-from-behind, 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10, Game 2 win to end a five-year title drought and capture their 12th overall title at the expense of the Lady Bulldogs.

Both had kind words for each other after a highly-competitive series with both games going into five sets.

“She (Belen) congratulated me and I told her she did her best all throughout the season,” Canino said.

“I told her (NU) played great and they gave us a hard time in the series. That they are one of the strongest teams here in the UAAP. I really admire them as a team.”

Belen also had nothing but praise for Canino after an impressive debut season that prompted her to win the league’s highest individual honor.

“She deserves all the accolades,” Belen, who was the first-ever women’s player in the league to achieve the feat last year.

“She did great this season from defense to offense. We can see how hard Angel worked for it. Her passion is there.”

Canino and Belen have a long history of volleyball rivalry dating back to their high school days.

It was the Canino-led La Salle-Zobel that denied Belen and the favored NU-Nazareth School of UAAP girls five-peat in 2018.

They also became teammates in the national squad.

“I’m very proud of her because I’ve been with her before. I know how hardworking Angel is. That’s why I’m not surprised she got all those awards,” Belen said.

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