The heavily worn out PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters saw its undefeated streak come to an end at the hands of a highly-rested and well-conditioned Philippine Army Lady Troopers last Thursday during Game 1 of the Shakey’s V-League best-of-three championship series at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago were the only ones that scored in double digits for PLDT as they dropped 25 and 11 points respectively. In addition, team captain Sue Roces had nine points while Gretchel Soltones had eight.
On the other hand, Army displayed a more balance attack as Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jovelyn Gonzaga dropped 16 points apiece while Nene Baustista, Royse Tubino, Ging Balse and Tina Salak chalked up 9, 8, 7, and 6 points respectively.
“Nagkulang kami. Siguro sa tingin ko naging complacent kami kasi masyado dahil mahaba ang winning streak,” said PLDT head coach Roger Gorayeb. “Pero I’m still very proud of the girls. Masyadong mataas lang kasi iyong expectation ng lahat para hindi kami matalo.”
With the pressure of preserving such a long winning streak finally gone, it is now time for Gorayeb and his team to go back to the drawing board and correct the things that went wrong for them.
“Again and again, iyong ego nila kailangan din nila ma-satisfy kasi wala silang talo lagi. You put too much pressure,” Gorayeb said. “Siguro ang pagkatalo na ito ay wakeup call sa kanila. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, konting effort lang yan at hahakbangin natin. Parang doon sa second set, 23-24, ilang hakbang na lang iyon.”
PLDT committed uncharacteristic errors which cost them precious points. In the latter part of the third set, the PLDT players went neutral, and gave up an easy point in the process as no one attempted to dig the free ball coming from Army’s Libero Patricia Siatan-Torres.
“Nagkataon lang talaga na nasabi ko rin sa kanila na those mistakes will make them stronger,” Gorayeb added. “Wala naman nangyari na sisihan, parang nagulat lang sila na bakit ganoon ang kilos nila. Kung baga parang isang matanda, bakit hindi na sila nakakilos at bakit hindi na nila maintindihan?”
PLDT also had a hard time containing the massive hits from the Manabat and Gonzaga duo of Army. Considering the fact that PLDT easily outgunned Army in the opening set, even Gorayeb was in total shock with his team’s sudden crash in the latter parts of the game.
“Dalawang tao ang pumatay sa amin. Iyong Jovelyn at si Dindin na hindi namin ma-check,” Gorayeb remarked. “Siguro gusto lang talaga nila manalo. Nagkulang kami kasi sa amin na iyong second set at iyong third set, tapos walang dumampot? Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit nagkaroon ng ganoon.”
PLDT cannot do anything about this game anymore but they still have the chance to even things up as they have a shot of tying the series tomorrow, 12:45 pm, in Game 2 of the championship series at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
“Siguro this is a good test for us. Ang mga bata kasi nag sink-in na sa kanila ang nangyari. Sabi ko sa kanila hindi na natin pwede balikan iyan,” Gorayeb ended. “Talo kami ngayon [kaya dapat] babawi kami sa Sunday.”