When the big moments came, Angel Canino was always ready – rezal404
The moment always came for Angel Canino: A chance to play in Manila. A chance to end a dominating high school run. A chance to rekindle a rivalry and return an old power back to the throne. A chance to make history along the way.
The kid from Bacolod was always there to seize it.
“Before, I used to ask myself, ‘How does it feel, playing and being a champion?'” Canino told Inquirer Sports. “What would it feel like when all you can do is cry after gutting it out until the end?”
The answers did not present itself in black and white. Instead, it came in opportunities. Her father, former men’s national team player-turned-La Salle coaching staff Rodel, greased her transfer from Bacolod Tay Tung High School to La Salle-Zobel.
There, she came face-to-face with a juggernaut program that had ruled the UAAP girls division for four straight years. But Canino did not shy away from the moment when it came for her.
Instead, she attacked it with relish, ending the iron rule of National University (NU) Nazareth School Lady Bullpups, who were led by the one player that would set a standard for Canino to match: The indefatigable Bella Belen.
And then another chance presented itself before Canino. A season before her rookie stint with La Salle in the UAAP, National University, behind historic rookie-Most Valuable Player (MVP) Belen, made a clean run to the Finals, sweeping La Salle for a spotless championship triumph. That would set marks that Canino and the Lady Spikers would aim for.
And in NU championship defense, the mean green machine struck hard.
There would be no championship sweep—a loss to Santo Tomas in the elimination robbed La Salle of that—but there would be no stopping Canino either.
WATCH: Mars Alba, Angel Canino, Thea Gagate, and Jolina Dela Cruz share their thoughts after bringing back the glory to La Salle. #UAAPSeason85 | via Lance Agcaoili
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Sunday, May 14, 2023
The Lady Spikers, behind their star rookie, swept the Lady Bulldogs for the crown, including a dramatic rally from two sets down in Game 2.
The championship match had everything fans could ask for in a title battle. More importantly, it revived the rivalry between Canino and Belen, who exchanged furious points and even more furious staredowns in Game 1.
“[I]t was all part of the game. They are assuming that we are quarreling. Outside the game, we’re all friends,” Belen said in Filipino.
In fact, Belen was all praises for Canino, especially after the 19-year-old La Salle spiker matched her rookie-MVP feat.
“She deserves the award,” Belen said. “She showed that she really worked hard for this season from defense to offense.”
Now, Canino is no longer waiting for huge moments and will go after them instead. “It’s pride,” she said. “We started this and we’ll hold on to this.”
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