June 25, 2024

Kungfu Reyes lauds fighter Filipino spirit in comebacking Milena Alessandrini

Kungfu Reyes lauds fighter Filipino spirit in comebacking Milena Alessandrini

When Filipina-Italian Milena Alessandrini stepped on the court last Sunday for her first match in UAAP Season 85, she admitted the need to further improve her mentality.

The former UAAP Rookie of the Year scored 10 points as the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses fell to the De La Salle Lady Spikers in five sets.

"It's the first game, I need to improve a lot, my mentality, my mind, and to face all the season," admitted Alessandrini

It was almost four years in the making after suffering a partial ACL tear in Season 81.

And the 6-foot-1 spiker had it going as UST took two sets against defending champions National University Lady Bulldogs on Saturday.

But after making a block in the fourth set, Alessandrini landed poorly and lied down on the floor. She tried to get up, and then covered her face when she couldn't. She put her hands together, seemingly to will herself back up.

The crowd cheered as Alessandrini eventually stood up with assistance from the coaching staff.

The 25-year-old outside hitter was able to walk to the sidelines, but her frustration was palpable.

"I was very scared when I went down. I thought, something was serious again," Alessandrini admitted after the match. "How can I survive again, face another injury?"

"The trauma is there," coach Kungfu Reyes added. "That's why she [was] crying."

It was an ankle sprain, according to UST correspondent Marina Avelino. It's still an injury, but it's positive news that Alessandrini did not aggravate her knee injury.

And the coaching staff helped her return to the game in time to deliver crucial points in the fifth set against the defending champions.

"I really wanted to keep contributing to the team," she said. "So I play with heart."

Alessandrini's 14 points, along with 10 excellent receptions, were instrumental in dealing NU its first loss since 2019

How was she after the match?

"I don't know. Right now I can feel nothing?" she laughed. "Maybe later. Right now, I'm just happy."

"She can't even walk," Reyes said. "Nung nakita namin naglakad, nung nakita namin na bumalik, 'yun ang mas nagbigay ng determination to come back."

Reyes is hoping it's just a mild sprain. But he explained this was also an opportunity for the Filipina-Italian to learn from Pinoys.

"'Yung tolerance niya sa pain, 'di ganun kataas," he said. "That's why gusto namin ibigay 'yung dugong Pilipino—dugong Pinoy pa rin 'to eh—gusto natin ibigay sa kanya kung anong meron tayo, na maintindihan niya kung bakit ganun katapang ang mga Pinoy. Konting sugat, lalaban."

"Ngayon pinakita niya na..." Reyes said as he turned to Alessandrini, nodding, "You have Filipino blood."

For the coach, it's a personal achievement and character growth for his ward.

"After the struggle, the importance is how you come back. It's not how you fall down, it's how you come back."