Where other teams have crumbled this season, the College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers have thrived.
Heading into the Final Four at the bottom of a steel stepladder, Benilde refused to bow out and went on a spectacular string of wins. They entered the Finals still ablaze and swiftly dissected the San Sebastian College – Recoletos Lady Stags in the first two matches, erasing the thrice-to-beat advantage.
Entering Game Three yesterday with all the momentum and a chance to win the school’s first indoor volleyball title, the Lady Blazers faltered and allowed the Lady Stags to drag the series into a rubber match tomorrow at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Their head coach, Michael Cariño, attributes the sudden drop off to a multitude of things, but thinks his team became lax due to their one-game cushion.
“Nakita ko kanina na ayaw namin manalo. Nalita ko noong first two games nandoon talaga ‘yung kagustuhan namin manalo. Ngayon maraming errors, ang daming miscue na hindi naman nangyayari dati. Kailangan namin pag-aralan at ensayuhin lahat yan,” the young mentor said.
So far, the Finals has been a roller coaster for both teams, neither matching the other’s intensity and focus in the first three games. Still, Cariño is confident his squad can come back from the let down.
“Mataas pa rin ‘yung morale ng team kahit talo. Alam naman namin na kayang kaya namin ‘to,” Carino emphasized. “Ganoon pa rin naman ‘yung ginawa nila (San Sebastian). Nasa amin talaga ‘yung pagkukulang.”
“Siguro sinusubukan lang kami ng Diyos – para makita kung sino talaga sa amin ‘yung mas deserving. Sabi ko nga sa kanila kanina na hindi naman basta-basta ibibigay sa amin ‘to. Kailangan paghirapan ng sobra, hindi puwedeng lalaruin lang. Kailangan buwis buhay kami sa effort.”
In what will be the final match of the season, Cariño hopes his girls can find the fire that got them out of the steep dark corner they had been in just a few weeks ago.
“Ako mas gusto ko na ganoon (do-or-die match). Kasi kapag may next game pa, parang may excuse pa na hindi mo ibuhos ‘yung lahat mo. Ngayon, wala ng ganoon. Hindi na namin maipagpapabukas,” he closed.