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Mission accomplished for Petron-PSL squad

The Petron-Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) All-star Selection achieved significant progress despite a winless tournament in the Thai-Denmark Super League women’s volleyball tournament in Bangkok, Thailand.

The team’s head coach, George Pascua, was all praise for his players, who showed grit and determination during games despite limited preparation for the tournament.

Petron-PSL waxed hot in the opening match against the current Asian champion Bangkok Glass by taking the first set, 25-23. Unfortunately, they were unable to ride their momentum as they dropped the next three sets, 11-25, 16-25, 9-25.

Then the PSL spikers fought tooth and nail before bowing to powerhouse Idea Khonkaen, 22-25, 20-25, 19-25. They then fell to last year’s runner up 3BB Nokhonnont, 15-25, 11-25, 25-23, 15-25 in the final day of play.

Pascua observed that the skills of his players weren’t that far off from their Asian counterparts. The one thing they lacked, however, was preparation and familiarity with one another. The Thais took advantage of their inexperience to overcome the Filipina stalwarts.

“Four meetings lang kami nag-practice at hindi pa palagi kumpleto,” said Pascua, who coached Petron to two PSL championships last year. “Pero yung mga bata naman, lumaban ng husto with heart and pride. Hindi tayo nagpabugbog masyado dito.”

“Pero dahil nga sa kakulangan ng preparation, hindi natin ma-sustain ang intensity natin hanggang sa huli.”

Team captain Rachel Anne Daquis echoed her coaches sentiments, and shared some insights that the whole of Philippine volleyball can learn from.

“Nakita naming yung mga kakulangan namin at kailangan pa namin i-improve,” said Daquis, who will lead RC Cola-Army during the final round of the PSL Invitational Conference starting April 7. “Yung mga sets nila ambi-bilis, so siguro yun talaga ang kailangan i-improve ng ibang Filipino players, hindi lang kami na ipinadala dito.”

The team are still in high spirits despite the losses, and now that they know what they need to improve on, they hope to gain further experience by joining other competitions in preparation for more major international tournaments, especially the Southeast Asian Games, which the Philippines will host in 2019.

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One of the team’s veterans, Aby Marano, embraced the opportunity to learn from world-class opponents like Pleumjit Thinakaow, Pornpun Guedpard, and Catchu-on Moskri, who will be part of the Thai squad Est Cola that will participate in the final round of the PSL Invitationals.

“Yung mga nakalaban namin dito mga national team members at may imports pa,” said Marano, the middle blocker of F2 Logistics. “So given the limited time to prepare, hindi din kami ganun ka-competitive. But still, we gave them a very good fight.”

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