IS it just coincidence? Or is it some kind of trend.
Looks like teams that have languished long in search of a crown found glory and their coveted reward this season.
The National University (NU) women’s volleyball team just pulled off a monumental achievement last Tuesday by winning the women’s volleyball crown in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). That was not just an ordinary win. It was a wow of a win.
The NU Lady Bulldogs brought the volleyball crown back to M. Jhocson in Sampaloc after 65 long years. The NU women had last lorded it over the field in 1957—so long ago that perhaps only “walking encyclopedias” like my former Sports World editor, Tito Tagle, would remember the details, or the players.
Or perhaps that beloved NU matriarch, Leticia “Mommy” Paguia, the doting owner and only daughter of Mariano Jhocson, the original owners of the university and after whom the street was named, would be able to regale us with details of that 1957 title. But both are now playing their respective games up above the clouds.
The Lady Bulldogs were so good this season, they swept the eliminations and also swept the best-of-three Finals, defeating erstwhile women’s volleyball powerhouse and 11-time champion De La Salle University. NU sailed to the UAAP women’s volleyball mountaintop on the wings of its home grown and home-honed core. It is only the third UAAP school to achieve a sweep of the elims after La Salle accomplished same in 2004 and Ateneo in 2015.
All but two of the individual volleyball awards were won by NU. Skipper Princess Robles was Finals Most Valuable Player. Alyssa Solomon was Best Opposite Spiker; Jennifer Nierva, Best Libero; Camilla Lamina, Best Setter; Sheena Toring Second Best Middle Blocker and Michaela Belen was both Rookie of the Year and league MVP.
The Lady Bulldogs’ win is reminiscent of how the NU Bulldogs also claimed the UAAP men’s basketball crown back in 2014. Led by import Alfred Aroga and Gelo Alolino and expertly coached by Eric Altamirano, the Bulldogs also gave their University “the best gift ever,” a UAAP championship.
NU had last made waves in UAAP basketball 60 years prior in 1954. Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, the Top Dog of that Season 17 campaign was basketball legend and Olympian, Narciso Bernardo—a name that today’s Gen Z or even Millennials would surely not be familiar with.
Come to think of it, the length of time that NU had to wait for another championship in men’s basketball and women’s volleyball makes the University of the Philippines’ 36-year title drought pale by comparison. And don’t forget that the University of the East last won a basketball crown in 1985 (Season 48) which makes its title drought even longer than University of the Philippines.
Of course, when it comes to hoping and waiting for a championship to come, very few would beat the undying patience of Boston Red Sox fans who waited 86 years—from 1918 to 2004—to shake off the so-called Curse of the Bambino (Babe Ruth) to win another World Series. Unless it’s the fans of the Chicago Cubs whose drought lasted from 1909 to 2015.
In the National Basketball Association, there are teams and their fans whose faith and patience are also still being severely tested. The Philadelphia 76ers last won an NBA title in 1983. The Atlanta Hawks last took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1958. The Sacramento Kings last had bragging rights in 1951. And the Phoenix Suns—who came so close in Season 74, and also showed a lot of promise this year—have yet to win their first National Basketball Association title.
The Suns are fifth-best in the NBA for all-time winning percentage and won three Western Conference titles in 1976, 1993 and 2021. It’s the Larry O’Brien Trophy that has been frustratingly elusive.
Well, they all can take inspiration from the Bulldogs, the Lady Bulldogs and the Fighting Maroons. Good things come to those who wait. But Destiny decides when the goodies will arrive.