By: Jonash Dannug
Though filling in for national team head coach Dante Alinsunirin, Rebisco Philippines assistant coach Dong Dela Cruz did not mince his words after a “disappointing” showing by the squad against IEM last Tuesday.
Despite winning the game in four sets, the Nationals, who did not have Marck Espejo for the day, figured in a tightly-contested match against the cellar-dwelling Volley Masters.
Dela Cruz felt that there were some moments in the game where they could have run away with a huge margin but his wards simply took the match and their opponents for granted.
“Sinabihan ko nga sila eh, kasi merong tendency na masyadong relaxed sa loob. ‘Yung pagiging relaxed nila sa loob, ‘yung biruan nila wala sa lugar minsan,” bared Dela Cruz.
“Nagtatawanan ganon, kaya sinabi ko sa kanila na hindi naman every time magbibigay ‘yung kalaban namin, hindi naman every time, susuko na lang ‘yan. Maglalaro at maglalaro naman nang mabuti ‘yan.”
Up by four points in the first set, 19-15, the National team let their guards down and watched the Volley Masters spark a 6-2 run to tie the game at 21-all. IEM was able to take the opener behind Mark Enciso and Razzel Palisoc.
“Sinabihan ko sila na konting seryoso [naman], kasi ‘yung kalaban namin dumidikit na, ‘yun lang naman,” he said.
“Although alam naman namin lumalamang kami ng malaki hanggang sa mahabol, kasi minsan nagiging complacent na eh.”
Despite everything, Dela Cruz was still able to find their silver lining in the game with the twin tower combination of Rex Intal and Kim Malabunga delivering points when it mattered most.
“Medyo kalat kalat ‘yung game, [pero] ‘yung blocking namin, medyo nag-work nung kailangang kailangan namin ng puntos, ‘yung blocking ni Rex [Intal] saka Kim [Malabunga], ‘yun ang importante doon,” said Dela Cruz.
Still adjusting to Alinsunurin’s system, Intal made sure to step up as Dela Cruz
“Siguro, slowly nakukuha ko na ‘yung gustong game plan nung mga coaches namin dito sa National Team kasi ‘yun ‘yung pinaka nahirapan akong adjustment at first sa training,” said the former Ateneo middle blocker, who had 12 points in the game.
“Though ‘di naman totally different ‘yung style ng blocking nila dito sa blocking namin before, pero ngayon medyo naiintindihan ko na so siguro natutuwa ako na nakikita nila na slowly I’m getting there.”
Meanwhile, Malabunga, who has been familiar with the system having played for Dante Alinsunurin in his collegiate and professional career, is just happy that they have finally applied their blocking patterns.
“Sobrang nakakataba ng puso ‘yun kasi ‘yung mga tinuturo nila samin na basic sa blocks, ‘yung mga pattern, na-apply namin sa laro kanina pero kinulang pa din kami sa depensa,” said Malabunga, who added 14 points built on seven blocks versus IEM.
Intal hopes that the entire team can build their chemistry with their remaining games in the Reinforced Conference.
“‘Yung buong team sana mag-gel pa kasi ‘yun lang naman talaga ‘yung purpose namin dito sa Spikers’ Turf, we’re not here to entertain people, we’re here to build our chemistry as a team para mas maging handa kami sa mga future leagues namin.”