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Like Diesel, Petron’s Rupia just needed time to warm up



Brazilian Rupia Inck knew exactly what she was getting into.

Coming in for defending PSL Grand Prix champs Petron, and replacing one of the best imports last season, Rupia’s feet were not ready for Petron’s big shoes. “There was really no pressure coming from anyone else but myself. Coming into a team that won the title last year and their import, she was the MVP. I was putting that pressure on myself although everyone else said that I didn’t have to,” Inck recalled.

Predictably, she started the season slowly, barely scoring in the double-digits in her first few matches and botching routine plays. Petron, at times, even went with an All-Filipino hitter lineup that had them vulnerable against teams with overwhelming imports. They wound up splitting their first four matches while other teams grabbed all the headlines for taking the champs down. Inck knew she had to contribute.

Opening the second round against a then undefeated Cignal HD Spikers squad, Inck finally came alive, scoring her tournament-best 27 points, contributing most of her markers in a crucial fifth set. Having played with Inck before, Petron’s setter and fellow Brazilian Erica Adachi said that she really wanted Inck to get fired up during that match. “Early in the game, we had a bit of a talk, and she got mad, ” Adachi reminisced. “After that she played really well. Maybe that’s what she needs – someone to really push her – because that’s the Rupia I know. She plays with puso; really brave and cheering for every point.” Working off that watershed moment, Inck has burned her opponents, showing tremendous power and versatility in her hitting.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Like Diesel, Petron's Rupia just needed time to warm up


Since then, Petron have gone undefeated in the second round, reclaimed the top spot in the standings, and reintroduced their foes to the intimidation they had inspired before the season. Rupia top-scored all the matches as well.

Aside from switching up her attacking approach, the Fresno Pacific University graduate said she regained her confidence. “In the beginning I wasn’t very confident. I came fresh from college and the pro game is so different from what we played in college. It’s so much faster and everyone’s really strong. Even in practice I wasn’t playing well. My approach, which I’ve been doing for 12 years, it wasn’t working. So I’ve been doing a lot of extra work just to adjust and just try to get better everyday. I feel like I’m getting more confident as the season goes along and that’s a big thing for me. Because when I’m confident, I feel like I can do so many things,” Inck told Tiebreaker Times.

“That’s what’s great about this league, everyone’s really good there isn’t an easy match. We’d prepare for every match really hard. That was a lot of pressure, but I think it just made me work harder and get better.”

Petron head coach George Pascua has used Inck efficiently as well. Seeing as the 6’3” Brazilian can put away kills from anywhere, Pascua constantly shifts Inck from the open to opposite position on the court, making the already-versatile team much more dynamic. “Kahit saan mo naman ilagay si Rupia, makakapatay yan nang bola. So, kung saan mas advantageous para sa amin na ilagay siya, dun namin siya papapaluin. Para medyo mas mahirap kami hulaan,” said the decorated coach.

With a 7-2 record and riding a five-game winning streak, Petron have a great shot at barging into the semis with valuable momentum if they win against Philips Gold in the final match. The Lady Slammers have two high-scoring imports, so Inck definitely has her hands full again.


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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