In a game that had their playoff hopes at stake, the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls needed to fight off nerves against the listless Café Lupe Sunrisers. But once the Wrecking Balls were able to do so, there was no stopping them, as they took a 17-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22 win, Sunday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The win forced a tie between Sta. Elena and Philippine Army for the fourth spot. Both squads will figure in a one-game playoff, tentatively scheduled on Wednesday, August 2, at 1:00pm. Sta. Elena defeated Army in four sets during their elimination round encounter.
“Siyempre kailangan namin sila respetuhin as opponents, tinalo nila kami for third place last conference dahil sa quotient. So, sa amin kailangan lang namin maglaro ng maganda,” shared Sta. Elena head coach Arnold Laniog. “Sana maging relax kami sa laro na yun kahit alam namin yung bearing ng laro na yun. Trabaho lang.”
And what Laniog means is that they can’t start slow against Army like they did against Café Lupe.
Sta. Elena surprisingly lost the opening set to the struggling Café Lupe team as John Millete could not be contained. Moreover, the majority of Café Lupe’s six aces came during that frame.
“Actually after ng second set lang kami naka-recover. Bago kasi ng game, na-pressure talaga sila, medyo naging stiff yung galaw,” recalled Laniog. “Good thing, nakabawi sila especially nung nag 23-20 sa second set. Nag-settle na sila after the game went on.”
One of the spikers that sparked Sta. Elena was middle blocker Jethro Orian, who finished with eight markers.
“Nung first set kasi, di kami maka-receive plus hindi pa makasagot sa block. Sabi ko, kailangan ko magpasok ng solid na blocker, si Orian,” remarked Laniog. “Bukod sa blocking niya, mabilis din siya pumalo especially sa quick. Naging effective naman.”
Besides Orian, usual suspects Berlin Paglinawan and Isaah Arda led Sta. Elena with 15 points each. Nico Ramirez also scattered 28 excellent sets. Besides the attacks of Sta. Elena, Café Lupe became rattled as the game progressed, committing a total of 33 errors.
Millete was the sole Sunriser who finished in double-figures with 22 points. Café Lupe ended their conference with a nightmarish 0-7 slate.
Sta. Elena (3) – Paglinawan 15, Arda 15, Camaganakan 9, Orian 8, Encina 6, Ramirez 4, Pablico 1, Basilan 1, Bacani 0, Deximo 0, Deximo (L), Almario (L).
Cafe Lupe (1) – Millete 22, Sioson 9, Lim 8, San Pascual 7, Ocampo 6, Baldelovar 4, Magdaong 3, Ebrahim 2, Castillo 1, Magadan (L).