There are very few things Michael Cariño doesn’t know about his coaching mentor, Sammy Acaylar.
Cariño was part of Acaylar’s coaching staff during the University of Perpetual Help’s dominant years in both the Men’s and Women’s edition of the NCAA.
Three years ago when the College of Saint Benilde brass was courting Acaylar to takeover their volleyball program, the decorated coach instead recommended his protégé. Under Cariño’s tutelage, the Lady Blazers have been steady contenders, nearly making the Finals last season.
Coincidentally, Acaylar’s Lady Altas collided with Cariño’s Lady Blazers in a do-or-die Final Four match. CSB came into the tilt in an alarming slump, having lost their past two matches and also dropping their elimination round match against UPHSD.
But the Lady Blazers pulled through, executing their elaborate gameplan and knocking the Altas off the stepladder.
After the match, Cariño immediately conceded that his insider information on the Lady Altas helped immensely with his preparation.
“Galing ako doon (Perpetual), alam ko ‘yung sistema niya (Acaylar) so naa-anticipate ko na kung ano ‘yung gagawin nila. Kaya kailangan ‘yung team ko mag-aadjust dun sa possible na gagawin niya especially after ng timeout,” said Cariño who still serves in Acaylar’s coaching staff in club leagues.
From his preparation, Cariño deciphered that he would need Middle Blocker, Ranya Musa to deliver points every time she rotated to the front row.
“Siya talaga ‘yung kailangan namin mag-step up aside from our seniors. Kasi ang alam nila puro kay Janine (Navarro) o Jeanette (Panaga) kami kukuha ng puntos kaya crucial talaga ‘yung ginawa niya. Naipakita niya ‘yung lamang niya sa matchup.”
Although they often face each other in different tournaments now, Cariño clarifies that he and Acaylar maintain a steady line of communication even in the middle of a heated tournament such as the NCAA.
“Madalas after ng match namin, regardless kung sino ‘yung nanalo, magtetext yan si coach saying ‘yung mga observations niya sa team ko and kung saan pa kami kulang. And I always listen. Alam kong sobrang dami ko pang kailangan matutunan from Coach Sammy. Sobrang thankful ko sa kanya. Alam kong wala ako dito kung hindi dahil sa kanya,” Cariño shared.
The Lady Blazers are again just one match away from making it back it to the Finals since their last appearance in 2009. With the defending champs, AU Lady Chiefs, standing in their way, Cariño knows his team has no time to relax.
“Ang hirao magmotivate ng mga bata na galing sa mga intense na talo. Pero ang sinasabi ko lang sa kanila, sa mga nasa Top 4, wala kaming natalo. Ngayong nasa semis na kami, ibang chapter na ‘to. Sobrang saya namin ngayon na natalo namin ‘yung Perpetual kaya hopefully magcarry over ‘yung momentum against Arellano. Alam naman naming hindi basta-basta magbibigay ng panalo ‘yun, kaya kailangan maghanda kami ng maigi.”
The CSB-AU clash will be on Friday at the FilOil Flying V Arena and will be televised live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action on 4 p.m.
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