Not being able to practice for a week with his squad, four-time Spikers’ Turf Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo was surprised that his number got called up in the Game One of their best-of-three semifinals match-up with the Sta. Elena Ball Hammers.
Espejo, along with Rex Intal and Peter Torres, were coming off a grueling stint with the National Team in the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championships and only came into the country the night before the match.
“Siyempre una, ‘di ko naman inexpect na maglalaro ako. Sinabihan lang ako na mag ready, so ganun naman dapat lagi,” bared the Thailand Open’s Best Opposite Spiker, following their Game One win against the Ball Hammers last Thursday.
Coming into the game lacking rest and sleep, the four-time Spikers’ Turf MVP has played in more than enough tournaments in different stages to know that a player must always be ready when called upon no matter the circumstances.
That is why, when he heard his name called late in the first set, Espejo made sure to gear himself up and shrug the fatigue off.
“‘Pag tinawag ka, dapat magperform. So ayon, nanalo kami straight sets, nakabawi kami sa last na laban namin sa Sta. Elena,” the 22-year-old product of Ateneo said.
Playing Espejo proved to pay dividends for Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, as his star hitter provided the much-needed energy and leadership from the bench. Espejo provided quality minutes as he finished the game with 10 points to go along with 12 excellent receptions.
“Unfortunately, hindi nakahabol ‘yung mga players namin sa National team [sa practice], buti na lang nagdeliver,” said Clamor.
“‘Yun ang maganda doon, nag-deliver sila kahit hindi sila nakapagensayo para sa semifinals.”
Without having any idea on what his team did on practice while he’s gone, Espejo was able to find his way through, as he noted every reminder from Clamor.
“Hindi ko kasi alam yung pinagpractice-an nila for the past week, kasi nasa Thailand nga kami, so ginawa ko lang ‘yung pinapagawa kanina, yung reminders,” he said.
“Naging vocal lang ako sa loob, tapos ayun yung nangyari.”
Espejo and the rest of the HD Spikers will look to close out the series on Sunday, 4:00 pm at the Paco Arena.
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