Iloilo settled for the battle for bronze in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference after AMC-Cotabato edged them out in the points ratio tiebreak system for the last Finals spot.
The D’Navigators will meet Imus-Ivy Tuason Photography, one of only two teams they have yet to defeat this conference, in the fight for a podium finish.
In order to break that pattern that is obviously not on the side of Iloilo, head coach John Kenneth Panes emphasized that all his pieces should click – not just Jade Disquitado.
The 18-year-old budding superstar was dazzling against the AJAA Spikers on both occasions – dropping a season-high 32 points in their elims clash while going for 30 points in their semis battle.
But both were not enough to push the D’Navigators to victory.
“Sabi ko nga hindi pwedeng isa lang, hindi pwedeng si Jade lang. Iniinput ko sa kanila na kailangan may teamwork tayo, may discipline tayo, at may respect tayo,” said Panes.
“Kung mawala man yung isa, matatalo talaga tayo. Si Jade lang gusto lumaban tapos yung iba hindi nagcoconnect.”
Iloilo will make the necessary adjustments before Wednesday, the start of its best-of-three series with Imus, to finally score a win.
Whatever the result will be though is just a bonus for Iloilo, which was not even named to the early title favorites when Spikers’ Turf guested in the Philippine Sportswriters Association before the start of the conference.
After all, a debuting team composed of young players making it to the Top Four is already a huge achievement for them.
“Blessed kami dahil nakaabot kami dito. Unti unti na natrabaho ng players ko,” said Panes.
“Dream talaga namin sa first season namin dito sa Spikers’ Turf ay mag Top Four kami eh.”