BACARRA, ILOCOS NORTE — Despite missing the finals, Choco Mucho head coach Oliver Almadro lauded his Flying Titans for their brave stand against the Jaja Santiago-led Chery Tiggo, Tuesday evening.
Choco Mucho had the chance to close out the Crossovers yesterday but fell to straight sets.
And on Tuesday evening, the Flying Titans — a team that played a total of five consecutive games — finally met the inevitable.
The wear and tear caught up to the Rebisco-backed squad as they dropped Game Three of the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference semifinals via a 16-25, 24-26, 23-25 result at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center here in Bacarra.
Still, Almadro told his team to keep their chins up as they gave a good account of themselves.
“Masaya naman ako sa challenge na binigay ng team ko. Nakita niyo naman 23-all, 24-all, hindi sila bumigay. So I’m proud of my team na lumaban pa rin kahit papaano,” said Almadro moments after the semifinals loss.
“I know they really worked hard and gave everything for this game, and the Lord wants us to be in this position.
“First, ang importante sa amin is same goal pa rin kami for tomorrow and sa kahit anong mga leagues pa. So thank you pa rin sa opportunity, ‘yung galing nila [Chery Tiggo] will only make us better. [They are] A strong team that will only make us better. So I really commend Chery Tiggo for today, and they really worked hard,” he added.
Going up against a squad that has the likes of Santiago, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and Mylene Paat — with either international and national team experience, or both — was a tall order for the young Choco Mucho team.
Still, in Almadro’s book, his squad put up a gallant stand in a fight where they were definitely the underdogs.
“I’m happy with my team’s performance. You know for a fact that the Chery Tiggo team have been solid nung nasa PSL pa sila, buo na yung team nila e. And then they have Jaja Santiago, a champion of the Japan V-League so hindi siya easy for us e.
“But we worked hard that’s why we got the Game One. But, of course, darating yung point na merong mag ii-step up sa kanila, which is the Santiago sisters,” opined Almadro, a champion coach in both the men’s and women’s division of the UAAP.
“We challenged them, na-challenge sila, nag-fight back. Ang problem namin siguro we are just a young team, hindi pa kami matured sa ganitong klaseng labanan. Alam mo naman ‘yung mga players ko, fresh from college pa. Sa kanila, may experience na sila in the professional league. So I really commend Chery Tiggo, talagang nag-step up si Dindin at si Jaja. I know that girls and they’re really… Na-challenge sila eh. Ganun din si Mylene, they really worked hard for us, so I commend Chery Tiggo,” he added.
After seeing the resilience that her wards displayed, the grand slam champion coach in the Spikers’ Turf believes that that the team can only improve from there.
Choco Mucho will face Petro Gazz in the battle for third tomorrow, Wednesday at 2:00 PM.