Sensing blood early and looking to seal its first-ever Shakey’s V-League championship, Air Force went on a rampage in the first set of Game 2 Saturday night at the Philsports Arena.
The Jet Spikers, buoyed by a supporting crowd that included a mascot, cheerleaders and a drum and bugle corps, went off the gates firing, handily taking the opening frame, 25-17.
It went downhill from there, however, as Air Force surrendered the last 3 frames en route to a tough 25-17, 22-25, 14-25, 20-25, loss to Pocari Sweat in the championship round.
After showing composure when they clawed back to snatch Game 1 last Wednesday, the Jet Spikers were uncharacteristically out of control, something coach Jasper Jimenez admitted post-game.
“Parang naubos kami dun,” he said. “Parang binigay na lahat. Pero 3 out of 5 yan, di lang isang set yan. Yung character nila nawala.”
Known for its veteran savvy, Air Force fell into a maze of miscues, especially in the third and fourth frames, when miscommunication derailed what was a solid effort by the Jet Spikers.
“Naiba ihip ng hangin. Nung first set, halos binigay lahat. Halos perfect,” Jimenez added of his wards, who were led by May Ann Pantino’s 17 points.
Nevertheless, the youthful mentor vowed to take their final day of practice to instill nerves of steel into his players.
“Kailangan talaga kumapit kami until the end. Hindi lang isang set,” he said of what he will tell Air Force on Sunday. “Yung togetherness ng team (i-emphasize ko), yung mindset nila, sasabihin ko na umabot tayo ng Game 3, kailangan talaga kumapit tayo.” — By Josiah Albelda