Arguably the favorites to win the title, Pocari Sweat fell victim to its own grace as Air Force completely snatched Game 1 of the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference Finals Wednesday night at the Philsports Arena.
Known to be the team that delivers in crucial moments, the Lady Warriors collapsed midway through the fourth set and never recovered en route to the 5-set loss.
Team captain Michele Gumabao, who had a monster outing against the Jet Spikers, knew exactly what caused their downfall: They were all too ahead of themselves this time.
“Ang aga naming nagcelebrate, ang aga naming nagyabang, ang aga naming naging proud,” said Gumabao. “Tumigil kami basically, we handed over the game. Ayaw naming kumilos, ayaw naming paghirapan yung bola.”
Comfortably leading at 11-3 early in the fourth, Pocari wasted the golden opportunity as unforced errors and lousy defense gave Air Force the rhythm and confidence to mount the comeback.
And with the momentum already gone, the Lady Warriors looked lost as they crumbled entirely when the Jet Spikers came in swooping to finish the job in the decider.
“We keep on wanting the easy way out, we keep on wanting an early vacation, we keep on wanting straight sets,” she said. “This loss is on us, and we learned our lesson.”
Gumabao, though, credited Air Force’s winning mentality that seemed to be lacking on her squad.
“They wanted it more. Each and every one dies for the ball, grabe yung sipag nila sa bola, and yung do-or die character nandun rin,” said the 23-year old opposite hitter.
Although losing Game 1 is not an unfamiliar territory for Pocari, who made it to the Finals after winning the last 2 matches against Bali Pure, Gumabao believes they need fine tune their focus in order to find ways in clinching the championship.
“We need to get our minds and our hearts in check, we need to have the same goal and we need to go through a challenge in order to win.” — By Jason Mercene