The Petro Gazz Angels’ Reinforced Conference title in the Premier Volleyball League meant a lot for head coach Arnold Laniog.
After all, Laniog was the man at the helm that steered the franchise to its first finals appearance.
Drawing strength from his brilliance, composure and unwavering trust for his players in three hard-fought matches, the franchise ended up tasting its first championship.
Their breakthrough title also unseated the Creamline Cool Smashers, whose three-peat bid collapsed in Game Three of the PVL Reinforced Conference finals.
But aside from the aforementioned feats, there is one more thing that Laniog has also achieved – a win over decorated strategist Tai Bundit in a title bout.
As elated as he was when asked about it, the Petro Gazz mentor was still quick to tip his hat to the Thai mentor, whose ability to command his players to victory and toughen his team’s mentality has always been a subject of respect from fellow coaches.
“Kaya nga sabi ko nga on my previous interviews, knowing Coach Tai, talagang kung paano niya kontrolin ang mga players niya talagang nagre-response sa kanya, yung mental toughness ng players nandoon,” he said.
Though Bundit and the Cool Smashers’ fortitude has been proven and tested, Laniog recalled that he just trusted his program and his players. He also believed that there would emerge a chink in Creamline’s vaunted mental toughness, which hinges on their “Happy-happy” and “Heartstrong” mantra.
“Pero sabi ko nga sa mga players ‘yan, ‘Kahit na champion ‘yan, buong-buo ‘yan, there’s a possibility na yesterday yung mindset nila nagko-collapse. Sabi ko, ‘Pwede, kaya’,” he said.
After having achieved such a tall order, Laniog let out a huge sigh of relief, saying, “Pagod, but ‘yung pagod napalitan talaga ng saya.
“Very challenging as a first-time coach sa PVL.”
‘Yung improvement nila [locals], maganda e,” he shared. “Going into All-Filipino talaga, alam ko mahihirapan kami.
“But then again, since nakuha ngayon [ang championship], mas malaking boost sa morale para sa mga local na pagdating ng All-Filipino, mag step up talaga ng husto.”
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