After a forgettable elimination round, the BanKo Perlas Spikers caught an incredible second wind in the Premier Volleyball League quarterfinals.
The Perlas Spikers rattled off a seven-game winning streak, including all five of their quarters matches. Anchoring their winning streak has been the splendid play of their imports, American Kia Bright and Thai Jutarat Montripilia.
Banko-Perlas’ propensity for losing their grip on matches where they had comfortable leads has evaporated in the winning streak.
This change was most apparent in their straight-set win over Petro Gazz, the team that erased the Banko-Perlas Spikers’ 2-0 lead in their prelims match.
“Noong una kasi, parang hindi magkakakilala, especially ‘yung dalawang imports, ano,” said BanKo-Perlas head coach Dong Dela Cruz, pertaining to his team’s early chemistry issues.
“Hindi alam ng setters namin kung ano ‘yung bola nila dati. Ngayon, napapalo na nila nang maayos, so ‘yun ang pinag-aralan naming mabuti, kung paano sila magagamit ng husto.”
Dela Cruz was quick to point out Bright’s resurgent play. Montripilia used to be BanKo’s best scorer, but Bright had taken over at the turn of the tournament.
“Masyado siyang tahimik eh. Hindi siya magsasalita hangga’t ‘di mo kinakausap. So na mi-misinterpret dati ng team ‘yung katahimikan niya,” Dela Cruz shared. “Later on, noong nag-usap-usap kami, ganoon pala talaga siya, na gusto niya, tahimik lang kasi gusto niya mag-laro nang maayos. Pero ngayon, nakikipag-kulitan na siya eh, during training at kanina sa game, medyo ano na siya.
“Kaya ayun, medyo gumaan na ang takbo ng team namin ngayon.”
“Honestly I realized how important that game was and I know the caliber that we’ve been playing on so I wanted to be efficient in that win. We just stuck together and showed our determination in that game,” she said.
“Honestly, it doesn’t even feel like pressure anymore. It’s just second nature to me at this point in my career. I really feel like I thrive under pressure; I prefer those situations than playing in games that’s more laid back,” she furthered.
“When it’s do-or-die I feel like I zone in. I live more for those moments than easy games.”
As they take on the PayMaya High Flyers in the semis, BanKo is counting on their consistency to persist into the best-of-three series.
“Ang advantage lang sa amin, dire-diretso ‘yung game namin, at nakuha namin ‘yung momentum na seven wins going to the semis. So napaka-laking bagay na morale para sa team, para sa mga players, ‘yung confidence nila lalong tumaas.”