Things turned from bad to worse for Foton on Saturday afternoon as libero Angeli Tabaquero hyper-extended her right shoulder in the course of the Toplander’s 25-14, 16-25, 22-25, 7-25 setback dealt by the Petron Tri-Activ Spikers in their 2016 PSL Invitational match at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Tabaquero, 26, was a picture of pain midway in the 3rd set after she suffered the injury on her way down following her dig against Petron recruit Cherry Nunag’s attack from the middle, with Foton ahead by the slimmest of margin at 13-12.
The 2-time UAAP champion with UST was immediately brought to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, leaving the Toplander without any libero with her alternate, Kara Acevedo, also out.
The Tri-Activ Spikers then pounced on Foton as veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas stood tall anew in their fightback on the way to their 5th win in 6 matches for a much-needed boost going to the final round.
Although he sounded satisfied with Petron’s latest outing, Petron coach George Pascua still admitted Tabaquero’s injury also proved to be a key factor.
“Psychologically and emotionally, malaking bagay si Tabaquero sa kanila,” Pascua said. “Kasi ‘yung setter at libero tandem ‘yan. Mas may kumpyansa ang setter kapag libero ang nag-receive. Pakiramdam ko ininda rin nila (‘yung pagkawala niya).”
Even Foton setter and Tabaquero’s fellow UST alumnus, Rhea Dimaculangan, admitted the Toplander started to fall like a house of cards following the key development.
“Medyo dikitan pa naman hanggang third set kaso bigla naman kaming nawalan ng libero nu’ng kalagitnaan nu’ng set na ‘yun,” lamented Dimaculangan. “Malaking factor din ‘yun kasi walang nagda-direct sa first ball. Si Ate Angge (Tabaquero) lahat kasi sinusuportahan niya sa depensa. Tapos nu’ng 4th set, ayun na, bumigay na.”
Dimaculangan added: “Hindi naman kami natakot gumalaw sa loob ng court after nu’ng nangyari. Mas nag-alala lang kami kay Ate Angge kung okay lang ba siya. Parang ‘Ano na kaya nangyayari kay Ate?’ gan’un.” — By Jerome Lagunzad and Joyce Palad