Return to volleyball possible for mommy-to-be Paneng Mercado

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2020 04:06 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2020 04:07 PM

PetroGazz star Paneng Mercado. File photo. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- Former De La Salle star Paneng Mercado de Koenigswarter is getting ready to enter a new chapter in her life, as she is pregnant with her first child with husband David De Koenigswarter.

While all her focus is rightfully on her family and on her child, Mercado is not entirely ruling out a return to volleyball.

Mercado last played for PetroGazz in the Premier Volleyball League, and was a major factor in their run to the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference title. 

"Pumasok siya sa isip ko na parang, mag-stop na akong mag-volleyball, mag-retire na ako," Mercado admitted during a recent interview with Migs Bustos on "Off the Record."

"Kasi, I've been playing since 2005. Professionally, (I've been) playing since 2013," she recalled. "So ngayon na 30 years old na ako, this is the next chapter of my life na. Motherhood na, focus na ako sa family."

But Mercado, the daughter of Filipino track and field icon Lydia de Vega, says it is difficult to turn her back on the sport that she considers her "first love."

Mercado had been playing high level volleyball since 2005, as part of a dynastic De La Salle team under Coach Ramil de Jesus. 

"We won't know yet," she said of her future in the sport. "We'll see kung makakabalik akong mag-volleyball, kung kaya pa ng katawan ko."

Mercado says she takes inspiration from another De La Salle icon in Manilla Santos-Ng, who stepped away from the sport for a decade to focus on her family, then returned last season to play with Choco Mucho in the PVL.

Santos-Ng, still the only volleyball player to have her jersey number retired by La Salle, was inspired to return by her son.

"I'm not closing my doors," said Mercado. "Baka magkaroon pa ng chance na makalaro ako ulit."

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