Lady Eagle Kat Tolentino talks about her first Ateneo-La Salle game
by rick olivares pic by joji lapuz
The journey back from what could have been a career-ending injury for Katrina Tolentino can be told in small measurable steps.
After suffering a third knee injury two years ago, the six-foot-three Tolentino, sister to older brother Vince who plays basketball for the Blue Eagles, thought she was done playing. However, little by little she regained her confidence. “For me, I didn’t set any personal and high expectations in coming back,” shared Tolentino after her UAAP season debut with Ateneo. “It was rehabilitation then making the decision to play again. Then making sure my body was right and my mind was mentally attuned to the rigors of training under Coach Tai (Bundit). Then it was the nerves of the first UAAP game against UST.”
“I am glad that the first game is over with because I felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety,” she said of her season debut against the University of Santo Tomas where she scored eight points; third best behind Jhoana Maraguinot and Michelle Morente. “From here it’s getting better and striving for consistency. Anything to help the team is good.”
Five matches later, it was passing a huge acid test – her first Ateneo-La Salle match.
Was she nervous considering her previous exposure to the rivalry was watching Vince play basketball? Further to that, she’s no longer a bystander but an active participant in scholastic sport’s biggest rivalry.
“It’s different, of course,” Katrina admits. “but for some reason Vince’s games are a little more nerve-wracking. Maybe because I am part of the crowd so I experience all the excitement of the people around me. For our match, I wasn’t too nervous because we prepared for this game and knew what to expect. I think meditation helped me be at a “neutral” state of mind for the game.”
In a conversation with Bundit following Ateneo’s three-set demolition of UP that preceded the La Salle match, the fourth-year coach out of Thailand opined that we had yet to see Tolentino’s best. ‘Still get better. More room improve. But work hard all the time.”
With her spate of injuries, Tolentino admits she isn’t the athlete she once was and has had to compensate for her challenges. “It’s hard to rate myself just because my athletic ability in high school is different than the athlete I am today. Also, I played middle blocker in Canada, so it’s different and hard to tell what my full potential is in this position. However, based on my performance, (on a scale of 1-10 with the latter the highest in terms of peak performance), I’d give myself maybe 6.5-7.”
After the first round of play, Tolentino was the league’s 18th best scorer and the fourth best in spiking.
Against DLSU, she backstopped Mich Morente’s 25 points with 18 of her own to help the Lady Eagles to a 6-1 record by first round’s end. “Normally, I am exhausted after games and go to sleep as soon as I get home. After the La Salle game, I think the adrenaline or the hype from the game was really strong and I could not sleep until 2am. I was just so happy and thankful for the win and to be able to experience playing in an Ateneo-La Salle Game.”