The comeback of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (NAASCU) in 2023 turned out to be a strong declaration for Our Lady of Fatima University as OLFU Phoenix Seniors’ and Women’s Basketball Teams were both heralded as Season 21’s runners-up.
It can be recalled that following the Super Finals last 12 December 2023 at the FilOil EcoOil Center in San Juan, both unstoppable Fatimanian teams had proven the promising merit of “The Home of the Topnotchers” even in sports.
The Lady Phoenix may have suffered a 35-point loss to Enderun Colleges’ Lady Titans but its historic performance in the winner-take-all finals sets a successful opportunity to recalibrate the potential of women athletes in the university.
Meanwhile, OLFU Phoenix eyed for the prize, threatening St. Clare Saints who was then NAASCU’s six-time defending champion. This was evident in their 9 wins – 2 losses record throughout the season.
To recognize the hard work of the Fatimanian athletes, an appreciation dinner was held on 18 January 2024.
Sponsored by Fatima Administrator and OLFU Sports Director Dr. Vicente Santos Jr., both teams were treated to a sumptuous buffet in Capital Commons, Pasig City.
Also present during the celebratory dinner were the powerhouse team trainers spearheaded by Coach Ralph Emerson Rivera.
OLFU Phoenix to sustain optimum spirit for NAASCU crown
It took seven years for Phoenix to once again go up against St. Clare Saints. Ironically, the 48-50 loss is no less reassuring of the team’s return to the finale as proof of years-spanning training and hard work.
In an interview, Andrei Romero (0), shooting guard, is positive of the Phoenix program as he projects the team to further challenge multi-champion Saints.
“S’yempre, nakabalik na ng finals so ‘di naman natin pababayaan na mawala na ulit ‘yun. Konti na lang champion [na] so [ang] motivation namin [ay] talagang paghirapan pa yung mga ensayo [para] mas lumaki pa ‘yung improvements ng team, [We have finally returned to the finals and of course, we will stand our ground. The crown is close and it will only drive us to work extra harder to achieve our best gaming shape],” said Romero.
Power forward Kobi Davis (9) also recalled the challenges of the team throughout the season. The ace revealed that some of them suffered injuries including himself which impeded their full playing power for the season.
Despite the hurdle, Davis looks forward to redeeming the team’s unfinished business in the next NAASCU season.
Maintaining the optimum spirit for the crown, Edward Paul Labayen (5), point guard, cannot hide his excitement as he anticipates their even grander comeback.
“Siguro gusto naming makabawi sa nakaraan, last season runner-up lang kami, siguro mas excited kami makuha yung championship next season, [I think there is this urge in us to do better than our last, thus, we are excited to claim the championship next season],” shared Labayen when asked about his dominating feeling after their runner-up finish.
The rehabilitation program through team’s strengthening and conditioning Coach Bryan Tupino is ensuring to prevent the same challenges from happening in the upcoming season.
This early, the training of OLFU Phoenix is in full swing, determined to bring home the crown for the whole Fatima community. – Raymond Lumagsao