After successfully defending their Reinforced Conference crown, first-year Petro Gazz head coach Rald Ricafort is setting his sights on the elusive Open Conference title.
When asked what the team needs to adjust in order to translate their gains in the import-flavored conference to the all-Filipino tourney, Ricafort gave a quick and witty reply to members of the press.
“Mag-naturalize, ‘de joke,” he said in jest just moments after the Angels completed its sweep of Cignal in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals.
Turning serious, the University of the Philippines men’s volleyball head coach said that the staff must continue to work on their system to finally get over the hump in the Open Conference.
Ricafort also pointed out Petro Gazz’s silver medal finish in the 2022 Open Conference. That, for him, is proof that the Angels have what it takes to finally claim that elusive crown.
“Siguro, ano pa rin … Siguro i-work on pa rin talaga ‘yung system na binibigay doon sa locals. Mabigat talaga ‘yung laban sa All-Filipino, given sa ibang teams na masyadong, parang All-Star na talaga eh. Like Creamline, ‘yung mga Rebisco teams, F2,” said Ricafort.
“So, unti-unti, kahit nakukuha naman namin ‘yung Finals nitong mga nakaraan, pumangit lang talaga noong last two conferences. Pero andoon pa rin naman. Kumbaga, kaunting trabaho pa talaga siguro, and siguro soon makaka-sungkit naman kami, pati sa all-Filipino,” he added.
Ricafort started calling the shots for Petro Gazz during its last two games in the Invitationals. There, he helped the Angels – already eliminated at the time – finish the season strong by scoring huge upsets against Cignal and Choco Mucho.
He was then promoted to head coach prior to the start of the season-ending conference.
For his part, Ricafort said that he was very grateful to his players for their hard work and dedication all throughout the roller coaster tournament, that saw them get a lucky break during the semifinals that led to their finals berth.
“Thankful kami kasi marami kaming players na talagang sponge. So kung ano ‘yung in-instruct mo, sobrang thankful kami sa tiwala nila dahil ‘yun nga, ang bilis mag-work ng team dahil willing lahat mag-trabaho saka open talaga sa instructions.”