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Rondina shrugs off MVP talk, focuses on winning

MANILA, Philippines – From being a reserve last year, Cherry Rondina of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) has proven that she is a full-fledged star, thanks to a series of explosive performances in the first round of the UAAP Season 78 tournament.

Rondina started the season with a bang, scoring a career-high 30 points in a five-set loss to Adamson University.

She has not slowed down since. The sophomore hitter has accumulated a league-best 129 points on 104 attacks, 10 blocks, and 15 aces to lead all scorers this season.

[EMBED on ‘league-best 129 points’: http://news.abs-cbn.com/sports/03/03/16/usts-rondina-leads-uaap-scoring-race]

She is doing it on an efficient 34.55% rate, good for seventh in the league. Rondina is also fourth in the league in serving, and contributes on defense as well with 2.07 excellent digs per game, good for fifth in the UAAP.

Rondina is likely among the top MVP candidates in the UAAP at the end of the first round, helping the Tigresses to a respectable 3-4 record capped by a three-set upset of De La Salle University.

(READ: Tigresses send Lady Spikers crashing back to earth)
[http://sports.abs-cbn.com/uaap/news/2016/03/02/tigresses-send-lady-spikers-crashing-back-earth-9311]

Yet Rondina was surprised to hear her name mentioned in the MVP conversation. “‘Di ko alam ‘yun,” she immediately said when asked about being a candidate for the top individual prize in the league.

“Hindi, wala talaga. Ako lang is, maglaro lang po talaga ako, kasi ‘yun lang po ang aim ko talaga – ‘yung makatulong kung ano ang meron ako,” she said. “Pinag-trabahuhan naman namin ‘yun.”

“And kung ano man ang mayroon sa akin, part na ‘yun ng team,” she stressed.

Rondina hasn’t been just UST’s best player so far. She is also the energizer of a team that has struggled with slow starts in the tournament. Although relatively short for her position – Rondina stands just under 5-foot-6 – her remarkable athleticism has drawn raves from fans and even opposing players.

“Hindi naman ata kailangan ni Rondina ng height,” Ateneo de Manila University star Alyssa Valdez said of Rondina after their first round game. “She helps their team not only sa offense. Kahit maliit, may blocking, may depensa, may first ball.”

Against La Salle last Wednesday, Rondina showed no fear in challenging the double or triple blocks put up by the Lady Spikers – the league’s best blocking team. In one memorable sequence late in the second set, Rondina skied for spike that went over the outstretched arms of Mika Reyes and dropped into an unguarded zone.

“Sa akin naman kasi, kapag tinitingnan ko sila, oo nga, matangkad sila. Pero iniisip ko talaga, may binigay sa akin si God, so gagamitin ko ‘yun,” Rondina said of her mentality when it comes to dealing with taller defenders.

“Oo, sabihin na nating pandak. Pero sinabi ko na, sige matangkad sila, may height sila, may gift na sila. Pero ako, sabi ko, binigay naman ako ni God ng skills ko,” she pointed out.

“Kaya, kapag ako ang tumuntong diyan, ibubuhos ko lahat ng natutunan ko – ‘yung skills ko, ‘yung alam ko sa laro,” she added.

Rondina and the Tigresses return to action on Saturday against the University of the East.

For more sports news, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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