That’s how Chery Tiggo head coach Aaron Velez described the team’s 2022 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference campaign.
“It’s very heartbreaking, to be honest.
“But we’re trying to hold each other because we have to support one another,” Velez told Tiebreaker Times.
From being the first-ever professional champions, the Crossovers suddenly lost its identity come the next conference, losing three of its four games in the group phase before eventually bowing out of the playoffs after a four-set loss to eventual champions Creamline in the quarterfinals.
After all, despite missing the services of Jaja Santiago, the team was still armed with its old reliables in Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Mylene Paat, who were both coming off a successful stint in Thailand.
To make things worse, the Crossovers lost to cellar dweller BaliPure in their final classification match. The team, though, still finished in eighth place.
“First things first I think we have to consider our preparations, we have to look within ourselves again like who we are, and I know we’ll find a way back and we’ll come back much stronger,” said Velez.
“More than anything, we have to know who we are from the championship moment from last year and meaning, there’s more to just playing. We have to know ourselves, we should work as a team, and we have to understand one another. The alignment that we have from the previous tournament, I think we have to double time that,” he added.
Would the results be different if Santiago was there? Of course, said Velez.
“Of course, Jaja [Santiago] will have an impact but now there’s an opportunity like I said for each and every player to step and show their own strengths. We have to reconnect that, we have to build from that foundation again,” said Velez.
“But again, we don’t know what lies in the future. But everything can be controlled, it depends on us to create our opportunities and this is not the end for the Chery Tiggo Crossovers,” he added.
For now, Chery Tiggo — who also played in the PNVF Champions League last year — will take its much-deserved rest all while taking everything they learned from this conference moving forward.
“We just have to take a breather, we have to reflect, evaluate ourselves, and be accountable for everything that we learned from this conference and move forward.”