CALATAGAN, BATANGAS -- University of Santo Tomas was having a dream run in the UAAP Season 84 women's 3x3 basketball tournament last year when one of its key players, Tantoy Ferrer, suffered a left knee injury.
Ferrer, who was the Season 81 5-on-5 Rookie of the Year, hurt her left knee in the Growling Tigresses' semifinals matchup against the University of the Philippines, a 21-11 victory, before the three-woman lineup of Eka Soriano, Agatha Bron, and Joylyn Pangilinan fell short against National University in the final, 21-18.
Ferrer tried to play against the Lady Bulldogs but limped throughout her 56 seconds on the floor. That injury turned out to be a torn ACL and MCL, which sidelined her for the Season 85 5-on-5 tournament. However, Ferrer is back in CaSoBe for redemption this edition.
"Ito talaga kaya bumalik kami, ito talaga yung goal namin," said Ferrer, referring to the gold medal this year after settling for silver last season. "Ito na yung God's will, parang binibigyan lang kami ng struggle ni God kung paano namin i-overcome yun.
"Last year, nangyari yung hindi dapat mangyari, tuloy pa rin, so ito kami makikipag-compete ulit, try na subukan yung best namin para sa UST community na ibigay yung matagal na naming kinukuha na championship," she continued.
UST swept Pool B, taking care of Adamson University, Far Eastern University, and UP to forge a semis matchup against Pool A second seed Ateneo de Manila University. Joining Ferrer this time are Soriano, Tacky Tacatac, and Rocel Dionisio.
Having the opportunity to represent the Growling Tigresses 11 months after her injury, Ferrer is just thankful to still have the trust of the coaches and her teammates.
"Syempre sa mga teammates ko rin na sumusuporta sa akin, na naniniwala pa rin na 'Ate, kahit galing ka sa injury alam namin kaya mo pa rin makipag-compete' saka thank you rin sa tiwala ng coaches ko na yun nga galing ako sa injury, wala pang isang taon at ito na naman ako bumabalik," she said.
According to Ferrer, her physical therapist said her recovery could take nine to 12 months before she can resume playing basketball. However, Ferrer worked harder to beat that timeline and be back on the court in just seven months.
"Yung journey hindi madali kasi yun nga mental talaga. Siguro kasi love ko yung sport ko, talagang ito yung passion ko kaya sabi ko hindi pwede na aabot ako ng ganun katagal na sinasabi ng PT ko na usually nine to 12 months bago makabalik yung na-ACL, ang goal ko, 'Hindi PT, kaya natin i-beat yan, tatrabahuhin ko araw-araw,'" she said.
"Sa tulong din ng coaches at teammates ko kaya mas pinaghirapan ko araw-araw, tinrabaho ko at ito nakabalik na naman sa Batangas para makapag-compete sa iba't-ibang universities."
In the other bracket, NU and Adamson will clash for a place in the one-game final.