NU’s key to victory: Two heads simply better than one

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In the end, two heads are simply better than one.

The National U Lady Bulldogs’ recent success in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 First Conference could be credited to having two coaches – Edjet Mabbayad off the court and seasoned Rubie de Leon inside of it.

“Having her is like buying something and taking another one for free,” said Mabbayad of his prized setter.

“I got a player who not only plays smart and intelligent but who is also like the elder sister of the girls as well as my representative inside the court,” he added.

Truly, having the 30-year-old de Leon, a former Air Force woman who currently coaches Poveda, has been a big plus for the Jhocson-based squad as she was the rock in their 2-1 series victory over the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Showing poise under tremendous pressure, de Leon, who steered alma mater UST to the Shakey’s V-League championship in 2009, delivered the key point that shattered a 24-all count in the fourth set before doing what she does best – setting up season MVP Dindin Santiago for the title-clinching kill.

“I was just trying to contribute in every way I can, whether as a setter, a blocker, a receiver, a spiker even as their elder sister,” said de Leon, who wound up with 19 excellent sets to go with 13 hits that included six kills, four service aces and three blocks.

“I’m also like their cheerleader inside the court,” she added.

De Leon said she is trying to learn as much as he can from other coaches, including Mabbayad, who is four years younger.

“Even he’s younger than me, I also learn from him and get a few tricks here and there that I can use when I coach my team at Poveda,” she said.

Led by de Leon, NU eked out a nerve-wracking 25-23, 25-20, 17-25, 26-24 victory over the three-peat seeking Ateneo team to annex a first-ever Shakey’s V-League championship before a sellout crowd at the Philsports Arena last Sunday.

It was NU’s first volley crown since winning back-to-back title romps in the UAAP from 1956-57 with the victory expected to fire up the Lady Bulldogs as they bid for the UAAP crown late this year.

For de Leon, the league’s Best Setter also went home – fittingly – with Finals MVP plum while Mabbayad, who was appointed as coach on an interim basis last April, may yet be named as the team’s regular coach.(pr)

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