The big push for the international participation of Team Pilipinas (Womens Division) this 2015 can already be considered a success, with the participation in the AVC U23, the AVC Seniors Asian Championships, and the South East Asian Games. Now to keep the ball rolling, Team Pilipinas has agreed to participate in the invitational VTV Cup held in Vietnam. There are only 6 teams participating in the tourney: Team Pilipinas, the Thailand U23 team, Vietnam, Nanjing University from China, club team Liaoning from China, and the club team 425 from North Korea.
As we have discussed before, one of the main issues that impede the continuous participation of Team Pilipinas in the international scene is the availability of players. The team had to field in new names yet again in the lineup due to various concerns in terms of players’ availability. Remember, volleyball is a team sport – some even suggest that the make-up and ‘jelling’ of the team might even be more important than individual skill. There has to be a regular pool of players where a core team can be selected that’s ready anytime when the need arises.
We really can’t comment on the specific stats (they’re not available as of this moment), and we based our observations by just watching the games. From this, we will be commenting on some of the intricacies that constitute the level of playing field that Team Pilipinas has entered in this tournament.
|#||Family Name||First Name||Position|
|Head Coach:||Rogelio Gorayeb|
|Asst Coach:||Ernesto Pamilar|
Given that this team is a new combination, it is very obvious that chemistry is not there. The usual pass-set-spike can be executed by the team, but the lack of organic cohesion of the players as a team is very evident especially in transition plays. As an illustration, the connection of the lone setter Masangkay to Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Aby Maraño is there since they were all teammates in Petron – Masangkay was able to give balls confidently to both players. However, there is a (significant) difference in the sets she gives to Santiago and Maraño. During most of their rallies in this tourney, Maraño had to adjust to Masangkay’s sets (either running or quick plays) because they’re too high for her reach or the sets were off-timed — Masangkay is used to setting the ball to a taller middle blocker in Dindin, who plays opposite to Maraño in the rotation. Chemistry has to be there in order for the setter to give the ball fluidly in any rotation without thinking too much. Masangkay is tentative to give the sets because she doesn’t know her attackers very well. Chemistry is not a skill that can be trained individually – it’s an intangible part of the game that can only be developed through time. Everybody thinks that you could just piece together a team of highly skilled players and come up big in the game, but that is definitely not the case for volleyball.
Roger Gorayeb has been fielding in different rotations in the 5-game eliminations of this tourney. This is understandable because this is a new combination for a team. He is yet to find a solid rotation but what they need is consistency at this point. There’s a game where Dindin will play outside hitter and will immediately switch to middle in the same rally or the next transition/set. This is very difficult to do steadily given this is a big adjustment and it affects the WHOLE team and rotation of everyone in the floor especially if you’re not familiar with your teammates. What the team needs right now is a consistent rotation — a rotation that will be used almost exclusively for the first six so that they will get comfortable and settle in. We know that there’s a surprise element whenever a rotation changes for the opponent, but again this is a new team and experimentation must be done only when the team is already considered solid. In our opinion, Dindin has to stay in the middle because there is no other middle attacker aside from her and Aby.
Have we ever seen Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone over-dig and misreceive so many balls? This is not her game. We have seen her play against the China’s National Senior Team and praised by none other than Lang Ping. She has yet to feel that she is part of this particular team and they need her to step it up. It is not the skill that needs tweaking – it’s the individual players’ perception of what they think is imminent (losing the game), and for a young team regaining experience in the international stage, that should never be the case! Team Pilipinas is definitely feeling overwhelmed in this environment and most of them haven’t been in this stage before. The coaching staff needs to communicate to the players and calm them down. Dindin Santiago-Manabat is a monster and we know what she can do but that is yet to be released in this tournament. She would’ve gotten the much needed experience if she joined the other international tourneys this past few months with Pablo and Maraño (but we all know the reasons for that). Even if Team Pilipinas loses most of their games, the experience would’ve have boosted the individual players’ confidence and calm down their nerves. Some of these players might be feeling that playing in this level is a burden and a responsibility, but that is not what should be tattooed in their minds. Huwag pangunahan ng kaba – they should just go out there and play the game. Playing for the national team is something to be proud of.
For the last game later this afternoon vs Nanjing University (tentatively 3pm GMT+8), Myla Pablo and Janine Marciano should carry the load for this team. As outside hitters, they need to fire their attacks convincingly because drop balls won’t cut it anymore. Pablo has yet to erupt into that best-attacker mode and we know she can do so much more.
So that’s it for VolleyMetricsPH’s opinion on this VTV Competition. Note that Team Pilipinas is still young and we are still in the early stages – it’s a tough road but a manageable one.
*Cover photo taken from Aby Marano’s Instagram
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