Just a few weeks before the Taekwondo tournament in the UAAP begins, the De La Salle Taekwondo (DELTA) team is armed and ready for the upcoming season.
After failing to stand on the podium last UAAP Season 79, as the men’s and women’s finished fifth and sixth, respectively, both teams are looking to improve on their previous runs. The LaSallian had the chance to hear from Immanuel Donato, the team captain of the men’s team, and Lovely Avancena, the team captain of the women’s team, about their team’s preparations and thoughts coming into Season 80.
Preparations for the season
With the unexpected medal-less results from last season, Donato acknowledges that there is a lot of room for improvement. This was why in a pre-season tournament, the team was able to build on their shortcomings and worked hard to claim the gold in the 41st National Taekwondo Championship that was held last July in the Rizal Basketball Coliseum.
With that, Donato explains that after the pre-season the team is ready to get going this Season 80. “Kasi nung last year, parang di maganda yung results but this year nung Nationals maganda yung results. So parang we think we’re improving ganun, so okay naman.” (Last year, the results were not great, but this year during the Nationals we got great results. So with that we think we’re improving, so that’s okay.)
On the other hand, the women’s team also saw improvement as they placed bronze in the same tournament. Obtaining better results compared to the previous year, Avancena expressed the importance of this tournament, “Yung mga nakita naming mali sa competition, pinapractice namin sa training na ganito dapat yung gawin para pag UAAP, ma-aaply na namin sila,” (Whatever mistakes we saw during the competition, we focused on them and improved it during training, so that we know what we’re supposed to do and be able to apply it during UAAP.).
The Nationals became an avenue for the team to correct their errors and encouraged them to bring the same energy into the season.
Rising above the uncertainty
According to Avancena, they lacked focus during their preseason games, and unfortunately, this can become a contributing factor to their performance this season, “Kasi kung madistract kami parang nawawala yung focus namin sa laban.” (Because when we get distracted, our focus during the game also gets affected.)
Additionally, Avancena stated that the team used this shortcoming by incorporating it in their training sessions to further improve on their lapses and use this to their advantage, “May kailangan lang kami iimprove, kaya ngayon, kapag nag training kami lagi naka focus.” (We need to improve on certain points, that is why when we have training, we always need to be focused.)
To address this, together with the men’s team, the women’s team conditioned their bodies for the season by concentrating more on sparring situations, to help them deal with unforeseen instances, such as executing a game plan against certain competitors during the game.
Meanwhile, the men’s team was surprised with the turn of events from last season – sweeping the first days of the competition but failing to place in the last day. A year later, that is something they do not wish to happen again. That is why, after garnering the gold during the Nationals, the team is using this winning mentality to their advantage by training twice as much so they would ensure no losses this season. “Kasi we reached our goal so what we wanted to do was to maintain it. Like we do extra trainings, we push harder during trainings, kasi ayaw naming matalo,” Donato explains.
(Because we reached our goal what we wanted to do was to maintain it. Like we do extra trainings, we push harder during trainings because we do not want to lose.)
Both teams are not specifically worried about any competitors that they will be facing in the UAAP, but rather, are more concerned with how the team will handle the pressure for the upcoming season. As mentioned by Donato, the pressure in the UAAP is different compared to the other games that they compete in. How this pressure will affect their mental state during the crucial moments of the game is something they should keep in mind.
The men’s team will no longer have the services of Kyle Uy, Pogs Jazmines, and Karl Delos Santos due to graduation. At the same time, Mitch Agapito will not be able to play this season due to an injury. Nevertheless, Donato assures that there are rookies who will gladly fill in their spots. The twin towers, Alvaro Aranton and Omer Mohamad are some of the new faces that the Lasallian community can look forward too, alongside Alec Villacencio, who is in his third year will be playing for the first time in the UAAP.
With the upcoming season closing in, Donato conveyed his goal for this UAAP, which was to not only bring the title to Taft but to strengthen the bond between the team during the tournament. “We want na champion kami, yun talaga, pero ayaw namin na just the championship, gusto ko rin mas mag bond kami ng teammates ko, mas maging united kami.” (We want to be champions, that is really the goal, not only that, but I also want for my teammates and I to bond, to be more united.)
As the women’s team bid farewell to their graduating athletes, Paula Amon, Kristina Lopez, and Farah Regis, the team welcomes two new rookies, namely Justine Cruz and Arjyen Datuin. As they work hard in preparing for Season 80, Avancena guides her teammates to have the same mindset for them to work better as a team. “Gusto ko mas maging close yung girls at this year same kami ng goal lahat. Ano yung gusto ko, yun rin yung gusto nila.” (I want the girls to get closer to each other and for us to have the same goal. Whatever our goal is, I want them to want it as well.)
The DELTA team is ready to enter the mats, with the goal of becoming not only stronger and more united, but gaining the championship title as well. The team from Taft brings their confidence and determination as they compete in the upcoming UAAP Season 80.