Amid the continued war between Petron and F2 Logistics at the top of the Philippine Superliga, the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers have emerged as perhaps 2018’s best success stories.
Struggling to gain a footing in the top four since returning in 2016, Generika-Ayala brought in Sherwin Menses to take over as head coach to start 2018. The Lifesavers then made some adjustments to their lineup; their biggest move was bringing back middle blocker Ria Meneses.
The Grand Prix was much of the same for the Lifesavers, as they finished in the bottom half of the standings again.
But come the Invitational Cup, Generika bucked all expectations. They toppled league powerhouses Petron and Foton in the elimination round. They then met F2 Logistics in the quarterfinals, where they were subdued to fifth place.
The 2018 Chooks to Go All-Filipino Conference started shaky for Generika, but they eventually found their groove. The Lifesavers took down the Cargo Movers in the first round in what was their first ever win over the storied franchise. From there, Generika rolled all the way to the third seed – their semifinals debut.
Although the Lifesavers sustained a heartbreaking loss to the Cargo Movers, they still had enough to blast Cignal HD for bronze.
“Siyempre, masaya kasi tumaas na ang ranking namin sa mga previous na conference. At saka end of the year sa akin, one year [na ako sa team], so maganda na naka-medal,” said Meneses, whose squad has taken on an unrelenting defensive identity.
The former Adamson Falcon believes that roster continuity was imperative to Generika’s quick transition.
“‘Yun nga ang sabi ko sa management, na kapag magpalit tayo nang magpalit, bago lang din nang bago.
“Mas maganda ‘yung naging response ng management sa amin. Mag-iimprove pa kasi kung ma-retain pa lahat ng players. Yung game nandoon na eh, ‘yung chemistry nila eh mas okay,” Menses asserted.
Should the Lifesavers bring back more of their roster for 2019, Menses guarantees continued improvement.
“Sabi ko sa management na kakayanin ng players namin umabot sa Finals in two years. May mga commitment pa ‘yung mga players na kailangan ayusi,n and ‘di ko din naman sinasabi na papasok kami sa Finals sa 2019, pero alam ko na kakayanin pa namin mag-improve.”