Newly-crowned PSL Grand Prix Most Valuable Player Maria Jose Perez of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers wreaked havoc throughout the conference, especially on the championship stage.
She capped off her stellar performance with 24 points all from attacks, including the title-clinching kill, in Game 3 of their best-of-three finals series against the Petron Blaze Spikers.
Nobody noticed that Perez was grieving at the time, as her brother Daniel passed away just a day before the decider. Even her teammates did not know that she was dealing with a personal loss. Head coach Ramil de Jesus only found out hours before the match.
“Actually very professional talaga si Maria. Kakamatay lang ng kapataid nya kahapon. Di pa alam ng players, ayaw nyang ipasabi kasi. Kaninang umaga ko lang nalaman,” said De Jesus after the game.
The Venezuelan import decided not to share the news because she did not want it to affect the team.
“I didn’t think about my loss as I know I have a big responsibility with my team, so I tried to smile and be strong. I knew we had this opportunity to win this game,” Perez said. “I don’t want to bring sadness to my team. I want to bring happiness and give my best for my team.”
The 29-year-old spiker fought back tears while sharing that she dedicates their hard-earned crown and her MVP plum to her late brother. “I know that’s the only thing that will make my family happy,” she said.
The F2 Logistics coach was beyond proud of the character and fighting spirit shown by his top player in these trying times.
“Di ko nga alam kung pano nya dinadala yung sarili nya, kasi di mo makikita yung reaksyon na umiyak, o nalungkot, o apektado yung performance sa practice at saka dito sa game. Saludo talaga ako sa kanya.”
De Jesus went on, “Sabi nya ibubuhos nya ngayon yung laro nya para sa kapatid nya, so dinedicate nya talaga yung game nya na ito para sa kapatid nya.”
The multi-titled mentor also shared that he was thankful that Perez landed on their team. The Cargo Movers were initially eyeing different imports prior to the conference.
Coincidentally, it was Lindsay Stalzer, Petron’s high-scoring import and former league MVP, who brought Perez to the PSL. They used to play together in the Indonesian Volleyball League.
“Si Stalzer yung nagdala (kay Maria) sa team namin. From Indonesia, teammates sila tapos napunta dito. So sinwerte kami kasi di namin ine-expect na siya yung mapupunta sa amin and then napaganda pa para sa team,” De Jesus narrated.
For sure, F2 Logistics fans would love to see the 2008 Olympian back in action in the PSL. But for now, Perez’s priority is to be with her family in Venezuela.
“I really want (to come back) but I haven’t talked to the management. I think after this, we will decide and we will see my final decision,” she closed.