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History-making Golden Spikers consider runner-up finish as a 'win'

MANILA, Philippines – The UST Golden Spikers are holding their heads high despite falling short of the title for the second straight year in the men’s volleyball tournament of UAAP Season 86 on Wednesday.

Stumbling in two games against four-peat champions NU, the Golden Spikers were once again second-best.

But considering all that they went through this season, head coach Odjie Mamon said he’s proud of his team.

“Heading into the finals, sabi ko nga sa inyo ano na ko eh, mission accomplished. Pero pinush ko pa rin yung team to aspire for a higher finish. Kinapos lang kami,” Mamon said after their Game 2 loss against NU.

“[We’re] very happy that we reached the finals and then may mga breakout games din yung mga new players. So, for me, it’s a win,” he added.

Though similar in outcomes, UST’s silver medal this year shines just a little brighter. This is because en route to the finals, the Golden Spikers actually made history as the first-ever No. 4 seed to reach the finals in either men’s or women’s in the UAAP.

With their backs against the wall as they faced a twice-to-win disadvantage against top-seed FEU, the Golden Spikers did the unthinkable and eliminated the top-seeded Tamaraws.

Knowing that reaching their level was no easy feat, Mamon didn’t have much to ask for from his players.

Apart from their team’s achievements, the longtime coach also fawned about the growth of the men’s game that manifested itself in the attendance numbers in their two-game series.

“Very happy for this season.  And of course, yung turnout ng nanood during the finals, yung Game 1, Game 2.”
Still, Mamon believes there are things to be done in the offseason — but more than skills, he hopes that the mental toughness of his players will improve to finally get over the hump. The Golden Spikers last won the UAAP chip in 2011, during Season 73.

“Definitely, for next year ang ipe-prepare ko not so much skills, and tactics but dito [utak] and dito [puso],” he said.