Almost is never enough.
Expansion team Laoag was already on the brink of defeat heading into the third set of the all-important Game 2 of the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference semifinals against a well-oiled machine that is Air Force.
But just like a twist made for the movies, the Power Smashers roared back to life—thanks to the heroics of Adamson duo Jema Galanza and Mylene Paat—taking the third and fourth frames to bring the match to a gruelling decider.
Unfortunately for the Nes Pamilar-led squad, the combined 34-point output of Galanza and Paat plus the 13 markers of Jovielyn Prado were not enough as they got eliminated from contention by the more experienced Jet Spikers, 14-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 10-15.
“Pagdating ng fifth set, dumami ang errors namin. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, kailangan dito ang maturity. Dun lumalabas na talagang kulang na kulang pa ‘yung mga character ng mga player. Ine-explain ko nga sa kanila, wag niyo intindihin,” Pamilar told the press.
“Oo, sayang, pero compare niyo naman ang experience niyo sa experience ng kalaban niyo. Darating din ang time. Magma-mature din kayo,” he added.
While the thousands in attendance were already expecting that the match would be over by the third set like in Game 1, the Power Smashers showed that the battle is not a mismatch, proving they deserve their spot in the post-season via the thrilling game.
According to the mentor, their game plan worked but their 29 errors eventually took a toll on the team.
“Ang pinaka-game plan namin, mapagod muna sila. Pag nagka-rally ng nagka-rally at napagod sila, tsaka kami didire-diretso. Nangyari nga ‘yun,” Pamilar shared. “Second set humaba lang ang rally makukuha namin ang third set. Nakita natin na third set medyo bumagal sila hanggang fourth set.”
While everyone in the team would have preferred to extend the series, finishing in the upper half of the rankings is already a feat considering how Laoag’s core has only been assembled a couple of months before the tournament’s kick off.
“Na-exceed namin ang expectations,” said the mentor who will assume his new post as La Salle men’s team head coach next week.
“Kasi nga, puro bata nga eh. Unti-unti, ‘yung maturity nage-gain na nila,” he added. “Sabi ko nga sa mga sususnod na conference tignan niyo. Pagbalik nila sa kani-kanilang liga, makikita nila na malaking bagay ang na-gain nila dito.”
Asked what’s next for Laoag and its players, the mentor said he is hoping for the best.
“Sana ma-keep naman ang team. Mag-uusap pa kami,” he shared.
On maintaining his roster should he be tasked to maintain the Power Smashers, he says: “”Yan ang plano ko. Gusto ko talaga ma-develop sila. Gusto ko sama-sama tayong aangat hanggang sa dulo.” — By Mac Dionisio