Time and time again, Aby Maraño has proven to be nearly unstoppable when highly motivated.
That timely motivation couldn’t have come at a better time, as the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers took a 1-0 series lead over the Foton Tornadoes, winning in five sets, 25-20, 25-14, 9-25, 20-25, 15-10, in the best-of-three championship round of the 2016 Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference, last Thursday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Sinabi ko sarili ko na hindi kami pwedeng huminde. Wala nang bukas, wala nang mamaya,” shared Marano, who had a team-high 11 attacks and 5 kill blocks.
“Sinabi ko na hindi na natin kailangan palagpasin, umabot tayo sa championship kaya ang goal natin kailangan natin abutin.”
The game itself was a roller-coaster ride for both teams. In the first two sets of the match, F2 Logistics’ heavy services and blocks hammered Foton heavily, leading to the former quickly gaining a 2-0 lead.
From that point on, everyone thought the game would be a one-sided affair, but Foton employed a massive counterattack behind the hard-hitting tandem of Santiago and Rondina. With the strong Foton surge, the game went to a deciding fifth set.
“Sa tingin ko masyado naging complacent – sobra-sobrang complacent na akala namin porket dalawa na ‘yung set na nakuha namin, hindi na lalaban ‘yung kalaban namin,” Maraño reflected.
“Pero sinasabi ko nga sa kanila na challenge ito, hindi ka naman magchachampion nang hindi china-challenge. Malakas din ang kalaban so let’s take this challenge.”
During the fifth set, Marano took over as her two-way game was on full display. In one stretch, Maraño cashed in back-to-back points and anchored the team’s net defense. Her intensity and mental edge during that stretch effectively rubbed off on her teammates, as they took over the fifth set.
“I always tell myself, kapag break, ‘mental toughness, mental toughness’, paulit-ulit lang sa sarili ko,” Marano said when asked about F2’s fifth set blitz.
“Parang kasi iyong word na iyon, nagreremind na parang hindi niyo kailangan magpatalo sa situation na dehado ka.”
Moreover, Maraño embraced the huge challenge of going up against the likes of heavy hitters Cherry Rondina and Jaja Santiago. The two may have scored 22 and 19 points respectively, but Maraño made sure those markers didn’t come easily.
“Sobrang napaka-talented ng mga players na binanggit mo. Sa tingin ko ‘yung potential nila, given na sa kanila. Pero ako, on my end, hindi ko kailangan magfocus doon sa kaya nilang gawin,” Marano added. “Kailangan kong isipin paulit-ulit sa sarili ko [kung] ano ang kaya kong gawin given that malakas din itong mga hitters na ito.”
“Sa laro, motivate ng motivate ka lang sa sarili mo, iyon lang lagi ang ginagawa ko.”
Now, F2 have the chance to close the series out tomorrow. For Maraño, she believes that if F2 play more consistently and carefully compared to their previous outing, they will have a huge chance to clinch the crown.
“Sa tingin ko kailangan naming maging maingat doon sa mga pagkakataon na iyon katulad nung nag-service ang kalaban tapos hindi kami nakadepensa, hindi kami naka-receive,” Marano concluded.
“Those are the basic things that we need to overcome – ‘yung depensa, ‘yung first ball. Tapos hindi namin kailangan maging complacent, kailangan namin na mas gutom kami sa panalo.”