Now in the finals with his dream team, EJ Casana made sure to leave it all out on the court in his first-ever appearance on the grand stage.
The former University of Perpetual Help System DALTA playmaker steered Cignal to a rousing Game One victory over AMC-Cotabato, 25-22, 25-22, 28-26 in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference finale at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Casana finished with 17 excellent sets in the contest to go along with four points to help the HD Spikers inch closer to reclaiming the Open Conference title.
“Sobrang happy kasi talagang noon pa lang inimagine ko na ‘to na kapag naging part ako ng Cignal, talagang ibibigay ko yung best ko para sa kanila para mag-champion ngayong conference,” said Casana, who previously played for PGJC-Navy before getting picked up by Cignal.
Casana credited his impressive performance to the team, who according to him, worked double in their preparation against the Cotabato Spikers for the best-of-three finals.
“Masasabi ko lang is kini-credit ko talaga yung naging laro namin ngayon sa coaching staff namin kasi kung hindi rin dahil sa kanila, sa system namin hindi kami mananalo and syempre sa buong team kasi hindi lang naman ako yung nag-work kanina para manalo kami,” Casana said.
HD Spikers head coach Dexter Clamor praised Casana for keeping his composure despite the bright lights of the Spikers’ Turf finale.
Clamor, who also came from the Altas’ lair, also said that the pint-sized playmaker is very coachable which makes his work a lot easier.
“Sobrang proud ako sa bata na ‘yan. Sobrang coachable, madaling turuan, nakikinig, and at the same time magaling talaga,” said the two-time Spikers’ Turf champion coach.
Casana hopes that the team can sustain their fine start and close the series in Game Two.
“Siguro yung kailangan naming i-polish yung ‘wag kaming mag-madali, point by point dapat kasi minsan nagmamadali kami lalo kapag nagbabalikan ng bola so yun lang siguro yung kailangan namin ipolish. All out na talaga sa Game Two, bawal na kami mag-relax,” he said.