A 27-year-old mom, a young breadwinner, and a reserve but talented setter took the spotlight over the weekend by dishing out big games to share the Player of the Game honors in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12-Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, drawing inspiration from her three-year-old son AJ, blasted in 15 points to power PLDT Home Ultera to a 25-20, 20-25, 25-13, 25-13 victory over Philippine Navy and into the semifinal round of the season-ending conference of the league where it all started.
Pretty Mina Aganon, 22, who has been supporting her family while she was still playing for and studying at National University, tallied 15 points to help snap Kia Forte’s three-game skid for the newcomer’s first victory in the league sponsored by Shakey’s, a 25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 25-19 decision over University of the Philippines.
And given the chance the to shine, Sarah Jane Gonzales seized the moment to become the second Army player to earn the best player honors after helping steer the Lady Troopers to a 25-4, 25-12, 33-31 win over the Coast Guard Lady Dolphins. The 24-year-old playmaker also became the second player in the conference, presented by PLDT Home Ultera, to win back-to-back best player titles after UP’s Ma. Isabel Molde.
Gonzales, who hails from Biñan, Laguna, said she never got discouraged for spending much of her time on the bench, particularly during crucial games. But when coach Kungfu Reyes opted to rest starter Tina Salak, Gonzales quickly proved her worth, displaying near-flawless setting from the start on her way to snatching her first ever V-League best player honors.
“I’m privileged to be playing with teammates who keep supporting and encouraging me,” said Gonzales, formerly of Lyceum, one of the pioneers of the league. “Their excellent receives and digs make my job as a setter a little bit easier.”
Pontillas, a 5-foot-10 middle attacker from Passi City, Iloilo, is no stranger to individual accolades even when she was still with UST, both in the UAAP and the V-League. She’s a member of that exclusive row of V-League campaigners who have each won at least four MVP awards.
“I have more reason now to play better in the commercial league; I have a 3-year-old son to take care of,” she said. “AJ is the driving force behind my determination to further excel in my career. I will go on playing for him for as long as I am able.”
Aganon, a marketing graduate, has been helping her family in Ramos, Tarlac even when she was starting at NU. Now that she’s busy in the commercial leagues, she said she has taken it upon herself to be the family breadwinner.
“I don’t need much for myself so I send most of my earnings from the commercial leagues to my family in Tarlac. I will always be indebted to NU coach Dante (Alinsunurin) for having brought me to NU, which has opened more doors for me,” said Aganon.